On this Arbor Day, a special day to honor the trees, it is a good time to be a little reflective on how aligned we are with our wise and stoic sentries of the land.

Maybe you have heard or read encouragement to “Be the Tree,” and serve as a large presence in the world. We may not realize the many impressive aspects that trees enjoy. We tend to exploit trees for what they can do for us--whether it is to provide shade on a sunny day, fruit to eat, or lumber for our buildings.

Trees exist for the long term, as can be seen in their rings of age that often serve as historical and environmental markers for those interested in “looking within.” In comparison, we have become so engaged in the timeless “now” that we might lose track of the connections we have back and forth in experience. The age of a tree can span generations. We can learn a lot from our earthly friends--especially what it takes to help keep the earth and ourselves healthy. So what does our own health look like these days?

In the last generation alone, we have seen a marked rise in illnesses and diseases that affect our mental and physical health in many new ways. Changing how we do the simplest things has caused complications that have lasting ramifications. Magic pills and other medications can mask and ease painful symptoms while prolonging the dis-ease itself. The futuristic convenience promised to society with advances in science and technology has helped some us achieve a better way of life, while at the same time causing ‘inconveniences’ that many of us have never had to deal with previously.

We dare to become empowered by following our individual curiosity and achieving greater spiritual confirmation about who we are. At the same time, we shrink our humanity by developing paranoia, anxiety, doubt and fear when it comes to our neighbors. In the old days, children were taught to be cautious of talking to strangers. They are now profiled as potential terrorists who must submit to regular and random searches for whatever contraband-du-jour is detailed in the ever-growing ‘safety handbooks’ issued every year.

Instead of proudly wearing a modest name badge pinned to their shirt, young people attend schools wearing placards with photographic identification worn as yokes around their necks as proof of who they are. They enjoy greater restrictions to self-expression and learn in buildings that can be locked-down in a moment’s notice, modernized at great expense with video cameras. Metal detectors and wands seek weapons, as personal lockers are searched proactively with drug- and bomb-sniffing dogs. Safety by submission…inconvenience in the name of security…and none are truly free.

Rare these days are the outdoor classes, where young people could sit among the trees like little Buddhas learning from their teachers and absorbing the education that comes from natural surroundings. Instead, ‘sensory rooms’ and other such equipment are installed to mimic the sounds and sensations of which so many are deprived in the name of safety.

Thank goodness the trees are out there, ready and waiting for us to enjoy and be with them. Maybe we can be grateful that trees do not wear certain types of clothes or come from particular countries. Their fruit might be organic and not genetically modified--egad! The trees are very generous examples of diverse, natural existence. Sure hope they are not laughing at our ridiculous attempts to exist with them, but understand how they might.

Namaste ~ Blessings!

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