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Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice

When we see through our hearts, we recognize that every single one of us is infused with creativity. Divine Sparks are embedded in everyone and everything. It's up to us to be courageous, to look and listen deeply, to find the sparks, gather and release them back into the universe, transformed into something new. Join me as we wake up to the sacred-ordinary blessings waiting to greet us each and every day.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Hear Our Voices Rise




Swaying timbers sigh,
“Shield us as we shelter you.
Hear our voices rise.”







Tomorrow, January 26th in the Gregorian (civil) calendar Jewish people around the world will celebrate the 15th of Shevat in the Hebrew calendar, Tu b'Shevat, the New Year for the Trees. I am honored to say this will be cross posted at Vision and Verb on January 27th, a beautiful community of creative women artists and writers "of a certain age." Apparently I am now of that age as a guest blogger there. A different photo will be included in the V and V post even if you read this one, plus there is much to explore at that marvelous site, so I hope you will take some time to visit Vision and Verb too! Thank you with all my heart to Marcie Scudder and all the women at Vision and Verb for including my offerings with yours.


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All my life I’ve felt a sense of awe, wonder and oneness with Creation. An avid tree climber as a child, I’d untie my Keds, ball my socks inside, ascending barefoot, returning home later with blackened soles and a contented soul. I enjoyed trees in all seasons, but in summer, once school was out, I’d search for a tree in the woods with a bough high enough to feel secreted, but not so lofty it was scary. I’d seek a thick branch curved in such a way as to cradle my spine, offering a view of the rich earth below, and the blue heavens peeking through the arbor above; clouds drifted slowly past creating shadows then light in random patterns on the ground, my bare arms and legs. I felt grateful for the strength the tree I was perched in supporting me, all of the sister trees sheltering me from the chaos of a large loving family. With seven under our roof, I craved solitude. I was a child; I did not understand that noting the texture of bark with fingers and feet, how it varied from tree to tree, or inhaling the sweet scents of honeysuckle, blackberry, wild cherries and mulberries, or the changing hues of leaves from the beginning of summer to the end was in essence mindfulness practice. I only knew this brought me joy and comfort. I felt closer to God’s presence, listening to the pulse of the forest, the sounds one only hears attuned to twigs crackling beneath the scampering steps of small animals enjoying the feast the woods provide. Trees were my companions as I daydreamed peacefully between the ages of eight and twelve. They were very good listeners and perhaps taught me to be one too. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite books was and still is “The Lorax”... my name is Laura so it seemed a logical leap to believe it was up to me to speak for the trees. I was little, I didn’t know how.

The place where I grew up in Pennsylvania is no longer sylvan as it was years ago.  Each time I visit my family more houses and shopping centers have sprouted where trees had grown, the rich soil replaced by roads, the sweet scents of honeysuckle, blackberry, wild cherries and mulberries usurped by car fumes and pungent deep fried, char grilled fast food and coffee chains.

Now I reside in a wooded area of New Hampshire much like the remembered home of my youth, a different landscape, but “treed” nonetheless. I no longer climb them, although occasionally I’ll recline on one felled by a storm in the forest looking up the way I did as a child awed. As an adult I spend hours observing time wizened bark, graceful forms. Recording the splendor that God planted for us to tend, to enjoy, to breathe with, to live harmoniously amid, to protect. Perhaps on some level my photos “speak for the trees,” yet I know this is not enough to proclaim myself a Lorax.

Anyone who’s spent time in the woods knows that while trees cannot utter words of protest against the whine of chainsaws, the roar of bulldozers or the silent strangle of invasive species, (including encroaching human housing developments) they are not mute. They sing, rustle, whistle, weep; I find solidarity sheltered among my longtime friends now, just as when I was little. Even beneath the bower of a single tree one can cultivate mindfulness, l’shmoah, all of our senses alert, listening:


Swaying timbers sigh,
“Shield us as we shelter you.
Hear our voices rise.”


Click here to listen to instructions for a Tu b'Shevat meditation practice. (Also available through a link on the Minucha b'Lev page of this blog)

How can you be a Lorax? Support stewardship of our precious planet. A good place to start might be a $10 donation (one time or recurring) to The Eden Projects supporting reforestation all around the world and empowering fellow human beings, lifting them up out of poverty with meaningful work that improves life for all of us. Watch this video to learn more:

 


Won't you raise your voice with the trees and me, compassionately healing our world, a sacred task we can accomplish together?



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71 comments:

  1. Laura, you stir up many tree climbing, forest loving memories for me with this post. As a child I was always drawn to the forest or to climb up into the "look-out" tree where I could survey without being seen. Thank you for the lovely post!

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  2. Love your words ... they are always so beautiful :-)

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  3. This post is so beautiful, Laura - truly beautiful.

    I, too, love trees - really all of Nature. When I was about 10, I had a very, very bad case of the mumps and actually thought I was going to die. We had a beautiful red oak tree in the front yard in NJ and I knew if I could just lie beneath it on the chaise lounge, I would be healed. I believe that the tree did that for me.

    When I married, I didn't know that my soon to be husband's name was the Spanish word for oak trees. I decided to keep the name after my divorce because of that.

    There was a very interesting article I read yesterday about human health and trees. I dig it up and share it with you on FB.

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  4. Oh, how I love them...and birches especially.

    Thank you for sharing your tree love and their voices !

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  5. Dear Lorax, I mean Laura. I love your love of trees. Makes me want to go outside and stand beneath the few that circle my house. Thank you for this.

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  6. Hi, again, Laura - the other thing I forgot to write is that I see faces in trees all of the time and I see the face in photo #3, the eye in #4 and the heart in #5.

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  7. A beautiful post - lovely shots and words. It's such a shame that more and more trees are being chopped down to make way for us people.

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  8. Beautiful captures. Have a wonderful weekend.

    My sky.

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  9. Hello Dear Laura! First, I love knowing of this day of celebration tomorrow... my late husband grew up in the forests of Pennsylvania. And even though I've only been there a few times, I feel as if I know these woodlands in the marrow of my bones from his stories... and your descriptions. I use a local organization called Trees For Change to give gifts and memorials. Trees are planted to replenish de-forested areas. Your post also makes me think of the Tolkien "Ents," who I've imagined talking to all of life since a small girl climbing ancient Misson Fig Trees. I will breath a prayer into my 100 year old pepper tree tomorrow... and think of you... XO

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  10. The birches are always beautiful.
    Have a nice evening.
    Mormor

    http://www.starbear.no/mormor/2013/01/25/the-weekend-in-black-and-white-8/

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  11. Lovely post and words, Laura! Your photos are wonderful, I wish more people loved the forest as much as you. Have a happy weekend!

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  12. I love the bark on those trees, such wonderful texture. And your words speak of the tenderness you feel toward our lovely trees. They all deserve to be hugged!
    ~Dawn

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  13. ah i have felt that same connection with nature...i love your pictures of the bark...like hidden pictures in them...i turn to nature often to refind my centere....

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  14. Beautiful post, beautiful words, and such beautiful photos. Thank you.

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  15. Magnificent post, haiku and photography ~ All wonderfully creative. ~ Carol of:

    (A Creative Harbor) ^_^

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  16. Great details of the tree trunks, Laura! I LOVE the second capture.

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  17. beautiful bark; beautiful branches reaching upward. :)

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  18. Nice pictures. Wish you a good weekend :)

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  19. wonderful pics! the bw looks very good :) thanx for sharing your piece of heaven with us!

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  20. Beautifully written Laura, evocative and mindful. One questions the word progress........

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  21. It's hard, very hard, for some people to hear the voices of the swaying timbers...

    New Haiku: None to Rescue

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  22. A great B&W, Laura!
    http://amitaag.blogspot.in/2013/01/inside-cellular-jail-2.html

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  23. Your photos always amaze...the hidden songs...an eye, a heart, just beautiful!♥

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  24. namaste laura. i too was a tree climbing girl. and i have been connected to them ever since. perhaps not thinking about it so much then...but definitely as i've grown older. your writing, as usual, is beautiful. i thank you for touching my heart this morning...and the hearts of so many others. it is a gift. i will never stop "listening to the pulse of the forest".

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  25. Wonderful images of the trees!! I really like the heart formed in the bark, but my favourite image is your header photo!! That one, with the sun shining through the leaf, is just gorgeous!!

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  26. Lovely post as always, Laura!! Have a good weekend!

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  27. beautiful post and photos!!!!! i love the way you look at things!!!

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  28. The woods are a place to forget the sounds of modernity - instead the rustling of nature and the aroma of leaves and fruits take us out of our ordinary and offers true relaxation for the mind and senses. That trip is what we need to become reinvigorated.

    Chainsaws and their staccato noises are not pleasant at all...

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  29. your photos take my breath away as do your words.

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  30. I like them all, but the 4th one down from the top is so intriguing. Excellent commentary too.

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  31. What a stunning photos. I love your post...the words just caught my heart.

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  32. Beautiful photography AND message!!

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  33. Lovely images and haiku to match - there is a lot in it, like all good haiku.

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  34. Happy New Year for trees as I am plant molecular genetics and cell biologist!
    The first photo really fits to the entry title.
    Have a wonderful day.

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  35. This is beautiful share, both pictures and words ~ I feel sad for those trees that are being cut and torn away ~

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  36. Wonderful photography Laura, as usual!

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  37. Tree Climber, have you read The Wild Trees by Richard Preston?

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  38. Wonderful tree images, the textures are beautiful, love the perspective too... Thank you for sharing on Weekly Top Shot #67!

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  39. I love those towering trees, the branches look like they're reaching out and touching the heavens.

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  40. Love how you show us the eye and heart of the trees, both in your photos and words. I too, learned young to love the trees and have written about that sense of oneness with them. You may read one of those pieces here: http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2011/08/24/thirteen-ways-of-looking-at-trees/

    Thank you for sharing this wealth,

    Elizabeth

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  41. Every image and every word of this wonderful post went straight to my heart. I am distraught with the idea of the trees weeping, and I know you are right. Thank you for you do speak for the trees, and so eloquently.

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  42. Wonderful shots of the majestic trees.

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  43. Beautiful photos, I like those trees in B & W in the second, exquisite compositions.

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  44. Beautiful shots of the majestic trees

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  45. Your story about seeking out low branched trees reminded me so much of my own childhood. Also from a loud, rowdy, large family, I was always the loner, the seeker of solitude in nature, often up in a tree. And yes, at the time I had no idea as a child that I was cultivating what would be essential for me as a woman. I see the exact characteristics in my 3rd daughter and smile.
    Lovely post.
    Cheers,
    Leah

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  46. Hi Laura, Although I was never much good at climbing trees, I adored sitting under them and looking up. Your words brought me back to that time of childhood; peaceful moments on this Sunday of Tu B'Shvat.

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  47. Such a beautiful post and tribute to life and to trees. It's amazing how many of us have a connection to them. And thank-you (again) for sharing over at Vision and Verb!

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  48. You really do connect your art to nature and life and creation. This is a very beautiful post with lovely images.

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  49. I'm a tree-hugger, too. I consider myself lucky to have stewardship over several bosque-laden acres. The trees and I have a delightful give-and-take relationship!

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  50. Love your writing, as I said at V&V you have captured the spirit of a tree so well.

    Thank you for visiting me and leaving a comment :-)

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  51. Your soul links to everything and sings, I hear you clearly, boldly through so much.

    blessings to you and yours (trees included).

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  52. Gorgeous Laura! I love trees~ I have fond memories of the glorious Maple ones that shielded my home and gave me so much beauty. The tall pines of my youth framing the way to my seashore...I love trees! YOU so shared their voice, their message with us~ Wonderful to read!!! <3 your words n' photos!

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  53. Stunning photography. I love hearing about your close relationship with trees. I just love the old oak trees I have in my pasture.

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  54. Laura, your photos are wonderful. You are turning into a real artist in so many ways. I love the words and this post. Beautiful. Absolutely grand.

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  55. I'm sure yo know by now how I feel about trees - and it sure looks like we share those thoughts. Beautiful images and clear, yet subtle poem.

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  56. The top photo of the stem and bud is my favorite. Just a hint of pink on one side...the new year has turned better for me. I hope the new year is bringing good thing to you.

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  57. Please link up your new haiku at Haiku My Heart at Recuerda Mi Corazon. Many of us are using last week's link so we can keep in touch. Hope to see you there!

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  58. Wow. You have macros and hearts down really well! Very enjoyable blog. Thank you for visiting mine. I'm trying to get back in the swing of things.

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  59. Beautifully written and imaged, Laura, thank you for speaking for the trees! (((BLESSINGS)))

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