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Dominican Retreat

and Conference Center


On Tuesday, December 12th, 2000 a tall pine tree, approximately sixty feet high stood with other trees in the midst of strong winds gusting up to sixty miles per hour through the grounds of the Dominican Retreat and Conference Center.  In the afternoon, her roots could hold her no longer and she went with the wind, falling to the ground, missing the five cars in the parking lot by about five feet.  “A miracle!” car owners gratefully proclaimed.

When I emerged from my office to take a closer look, I was greeted by the intense fragrance of pine scented air swirling around me.  I breathed deeply, savoring the air that was filled with the life and redolence of this magnificent tree.

I made my pilgrimage to the dying tree with feelings of sadness and gratitude.  I felt sad that the tree would die.  I was grateful to the tree for not damaging anything in the process.  The graceful lessons of this dying tree were beginning to dawn on me.  The roots let go at the precise second that caused the least damage.  It did not take any power lines down, nor did it injure anyone.  And even in its dying, it distributed a fragrance of life that filled me with joy, awe, and pleasure.

As I counted the sixty or so circles in the trunk, signifying the sixty or so cycles of seasons this pine had lived, I told the tree that I would learn from her lessons.

In my heart I prayed.  I asked for the grace and wisdom to let go at the right times and for the ability to give joy in the process.  I want to avoid pulling down others’ power when I am in painful or challenging situations.  I want to know when to let go along the way so that when my time comes, I can let go into death at just the right time and in a way that the redolence of my life can bring joy to others.  In the meantime, I want to let go of any beliefs, attitudes, actions, thoughts, feelings, that are needlessly destructive, draining of power – mine or someone else’s - or blocking the fragrance of life now.

I have a long way to go.  But I know I need these gifts if I am to navigate the challenges in my life with some measure of grace.

 What lessons do the trees have for you?

Where in your life do you need to let go?

Are you involved in destructive or draining relationships?

When was the last time you savored the presence of a tree?

Lessons from a Dying Pine
© 2009 Carol Davis, OP

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