Monday, December 15, 2008


Several years ago I was visiting dear friends in an out-lying area of Chicago. Down the quiet country road from their house was a large Christmas tree farm, the first and only one I have ever personally seen. I was delighted by not only the extraordinary expanse of growing evergreens, but also by the felt-sense experience of all that was going in to the preparation of a tree that would then serve the purpose of being a centerpiece for one relatively short observance. A great amount of tending, care, and attention is given as each seed becomes sapling, and each sapling becomes a tree mature enough to be chopped and shopped for the pleasure of perhaps the grandest of all holiday celebrations, at least in the Christian tradition.

While trees are certainly living beings in their own right, they are not organisms of self-reflecting consciousness. As I gazed upon this field of trees, however, I couldn’t help but feel they each were manifesting themselves into a form of selfless service. That each tree was incarnating its self into being simply to bring beauty and joy to those who would acquire it. I found myself with a deep and profound desire to be my own kind of Christmas tree, a desire that has lasted and certainly re-surfaced at this time of year. I want my time upon this planet to serve and to uplift others, to bring some beauty and some joy to those who are led into my sphere of experience.
A few years after experiencing this tree farm, I was on retreat in North Carolina in early January. I was “G-awed-walking” when I came across a group of people who were gathering the discarded Christmas trees of the recently ended season. They explained to me that they were part of a group who mulches the trees for the purpose of using that mulch on all the hiking trials in the area. I nearly exploded in glee! I immediately thought of the tree farm, and the lengthy process of bringing each seedling to readied maturity. I thought of the trees being cut down, and how they went from the desolate field to a festive place of honor, with gifts at their feet. I felt how they would then be stripped of their adornment, and unceremoniously dumped at the curb for pick-up. And then these dear people were furthering their usefulness by turning their past glory into a carpet for countless to tread upon. It only deepened for me the metaphor of living as a Christmas tree in every season of the year! I want the whole of my life to be a path upon which future generations may travel. I will that the awakening and the unskillfulness of my living be used to beacon those who are to follow me when I am gone from physical sight. I want the entire process of my unfoldment- from seedling to immortal mulch- to be used for something larger than myself. This is my prayer and my intention.

Though at times I may over-accessorize, I have not led a life of great accomplishment or adornment. I have not been a “tree” that has been viewed or celebrated by masses. The ornaments of human achievement have always seemed a bit too heavy for these branches, and the lights of fame or fortune are not now the goals of this maturing tree. I feel a bit more like Charlie Browns Christmas tree than the one at Rockefeller Center. Mine is more an interior incarnation, though at times I may be the center of some attention. So much of success is perceptual, as is the assessment of what is beauty or grandeur. The fact that a hundred people pass by a particular Christmas tree doesn’t diminish its beauty to the one who chooses its expression. I seek to remember this daily as I commit to giving my gifts. I hold to the purpose of my Being; to awaken to the splendor of the One Self, and to give expression to It in my daily being and doing. I live so that my love will be a lasting legacy, and so that my struggles will ease the way for future pilgrims upon the path. If some of the experiences that I am called to bear within this incarnation weigh my branches down, I trust that the Life Source within is equal to the demand. I will remain a devotion to G-awedness, beauty, serenity, and joy. I will remain rooted in the Love that is my Truth, and I will allow the example of that Love to be a reminder for all those who choose to behold it. I will embrace and release the ego tendency of comparison; despite any outer appearance, we are all trees of One Source, and our expressions are equally reverent and precious just as they are.

As we end this calendar year of 2008, I embrace an openness of what this “tree of me” will grow forth in the year of 2009. I relish the uncertainty, and the opportunity to simply root myself in now. I celebrate the adornments of my present, and let my Presence be my gift. I am knowing for each who chooses to read this expression of my heart a glorious holiday season, and a new year that is filled with peace and endless possibility.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Mass of Christ, and a Happy New Year.