Sunday, April 24, 2016

Rockabye Cedar tree

Rockabye Cedar tree
Saturday April 23, 2016 Kew Gardens
I'm struggling with grief and the change in dynamics in the family due to my
mother's sudden if not unexpected death. After all, when you get to 89, and
you are in frail health death is a more likely outcome than not, when you've
been fighting infections for 3 months.
Deeply bothered by the shift in power in the family, and how that makes me
feel, I seek steadiness and protection with the trees. To be truthful, I'm
not up to the mark today. I'm filled with snot; I have a cold. I seem to
have lost control of my body thermostat. Still, I need the trees, so I am
here.
I've been here before, I know this, I think as we walk amongst the great
trees. A dim memory of a rain-soaked grief filled day, 6 weeks after my
father's death in 2007, a previous visit to a big tree here in Kew Gardens,
and the comfort it offered, tightens my chest as my companion and I walk
across the soft wide lawn. Indeed, I have been here before. I am now an
orphan.
It's not quite a pine grove, more a companionable gathering of tree friends.
They rise hugely into the sky, yet spread out sturdy limbs close to the
ground, as though staking their place. Around them, the litter of previous
year's cones twigs and leaves, carpet the ground.
Is this the Cedar tree I found last time? I'm not sure, though it calls me
to it. I walk round it, examine its dimensions, admiring its sturdy limbs
and the places it offers me to rest on. As I walk, I sing the old school
Grace, I rewrote last time I was here. My voice cracked and sore, congested
with cold, falters at first, then more strongly as I find my way, sings
out:
Cedar's round this country fair, tell the story of thy care,
And the trees who watch and wait, are the guardians of our fate.
I find the right place to sit, my back supported by a trunk, the seat wide
and curved and comfortable. We settle down on her limbs and cast the circle.
I call up the protection circle, cast by friends for me earlier this week.
Around the branches, the feather and horn tips swirl. I feel safe.
The tree has limbs growing low, and others growing high. At the end of
these, great frills of long pine needles wave, and the smaller branches like
an earnest conductor, beat time with the wind with a grace both stately and
joyful. My companion and I find tree songs coming into our thoughts. WE sing
these to the tree.
"Trees grow tall in the heart of the forest,
High in the sky and the roots go down,
to the deep dark earth."
And
"Tall Trees, warm fires, strong winds, deep water,
I feel it in my body and I bring it to the source."
, I breathe into the wood and feel the roots reaching down into the ground.
I am so comfortable. This is a beautiful tree.
My companion describes the green brown bark and the almost navy blue pine
needles. These lie dark against a bright blue sky.
The sun, a shaft of warmth from the west, reaches between the trunks and
tenderly touches my face. I lift my cheek as though to receive a mother's
caress. I am soothed and comforted.
I want to experience this tree's architecture that I cannot see or reach
from where I am. In my mind, I begin to climb the tree.
The branches swoop and bend to help me. Soon I am at the top of one
sky-pointing limb, held by the hard wood, my head cushioned on a frilly
profusion of soft long pine needles.
The branch sways. I embrace it; allow my body to be moved as the wind
demands. From this vantage point, what must the view be like? Does the
whole world stretch out beneath and around me, is it swinging as I swing?
If I could see, would I glimpse other beings, similarly cradled on the other
trees? A nursery of swooping souls perhaps being rockabye-babied. The words
of the nursery rhyme fill my mind.
"Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top.
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall.
Down will come baby, cradle and all!
As I follow the song to its end, I cling to the branch. I hope it will not
be my fate to "down will come baby, cradle and all", for my mother is no
longer here to gather me up. And with that thought, a wave of grief sweeps
over me. I breathe hard to release it, knuckling my wet eyes like a desolate
child.
I am aware of my companion leaning against a branch near me; still and
resting. She is undisturbed by the sudden frenzied flapping; as a bird
swoops in and out of the high branches overhead. My ears follow its flight.
I hear other scirring wings, as the beings of the sky offer their tender
feathered presence.
This tree holds me as she sways. And yet, though Sitting as I am now, in
the lap of the tree, I feel connected and grounded. Leaning into its
strength I am sure I can feel the whole tree move from its uppermost
branches, right down to the roots. Earth and sky bridged by this tree, seek
to teach me to walk on the earth though I feel so unbalanced without that
steadying presence of my mother.
I remember the protection spell. It reminds me that others love me. This
love is here to help. The air is thick with feathers and horn points. They
eddy and swirl like snow almost, floating slowly down towards the earth,
till being tossed up high again. ,
I can hear the blackbird I first heard as we left the cafe. Loudly it sings,
and in my head, I sing back. As long as I can hear the birds singing,
everything will be alright.
I am safe, I am safe. I could stay forever. But the wind is beginning to
nip. I'm a bit cold.
Sitting on this branch down near the ground, my back to one trunk and my arm
leaning on another, I feel a chill creeping slowly into me. The cold is
doing it's best to stake its claim. People say it's the grief coming out.
Fleetingly, I muse on the illogicality of an additional discomfort to
someone who is weighted down by loss. "Pah to germs, that's what I say," I
mutter.
We thank the beings and directions, and stretching, I get up and walk
counter clockwise round the tree. The air has cooled, though the sun still
shafts low across the garden. In the distance, the blackbird continues to
sing.

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