At another level, we need to pay attention to the messages we receive from nature. She speaks to us if we will listen. Years ago, I had been told that if you hug a redwood or any older tree for that matter, you could feel an energy vibration that would fill you with a heightened sense of awareness and connection. Trees, especially Redwoods, have wisdom to impart if we attune to their sound and expression. I had recently gone to a resort area that had a national redwood forest, and a group of us walked through the woods to appreciate the smell, the calm, and the incredible beauty of those magnificent trees.
I suggested that we put our hands on the trunk of a tree and allow ourselves to feel its rhythm and see if there were any impressions we received. We did this for a few minutes when suddenly my teenage granddaughter jumped and screamed. While in deep concentration, a spider had crawled on to her hand, and she was totally freaked out by it. She gasped and suddenly took off like a shot out of a cannon. We waited for her to return, but when she didn't come back, we became concerned that something had happened during her tree time that freaked her out beyond the spider. After an hour, we were all reunited and she told that she had a significant sense of connection to energy while holding her hands on the tree trunk, and that the spider crawling on her hand shocked her out of a space because spiders were her worst nightmare.
I recognized that this could be a deal breaker for her in a sense that she would not want to go into that space of connection again out of fear, and had her sit with me for a few minutes to make sure she saw the incident in a different light. I explained that fear would try to keep her from deepening experiences, and the spider was a distracting influence that came to test her intention. In other words, when we open to something that may transport us to a higher level of insight and understanding, the dual part of our nature that does not want that experience will set up something to dissuade us from going further.
Our task is to recognize that the demons we face are illusions similar to guardians at the gate. Only the most sincere are able to enter. Those who are merely dabbling or sensation seekers will be turned away because the path ahead may be steep or filled with brambles. We can liken it to the left and right hand paths. One looks smooth and easy in the beginning while the other is filled with underbrush that will require effort initially to clear. However, as we go along, the one that seemed so easy becomes harder and harder while the other path that was difficult at the onset becomes lighter and brighter the further we go. Sometimes, making a foray into higher dimensions can be unsettling in the beginning. However, the rewards for the earnest seeker are quite extraordinary and life expanding.
In contrast to listening and following impulses to open to vaster realities, sometimes nature will alert us to something that is important, and when we don't listen, the consequences can be harsh. Years ago while working in the garden of the place where I lived then, the spirit of a pyracanthia tree in my backyard spoke to me. It was through impressions, and was very clear in its directives of what should be pruned and what not. While working in the garden I sensed a beautiful cooperative effort between the soil, insects, plants, all playing their parts with perfect grace and attunement.
The tree impressed me with the idea that a certain branch was to be left alone, for there was an important purpose in its being draped as it was. I followed the impression and noted as I sat inside looking out that its shape was beautiful and added to the garden rather than detracting from it. Another aspect of my impression was to make sure that my housemate did not cut that branch either. However, since she never gardened, I didn't remember to tell her what I felt from the tree.
The next day, I came home from an outing and was immediately aware that something was wrong. As I walked to the patio doors, I froze in horror. The beautiful branch on the wonderful tree had been cut so that the little tree was shaped like a bowl, not in the artful natural flow it had created on its own. I felt its pain, and sat in tears as I realized I had not followed through with the full directive I'd been given.
When my housemate came home, I asked her why she had cut the branch on the tree. She said it offended her idea of order, and she decided to cut it so the tree would look perfect. I was very emotional at the time and told her what I'd received. She didn't seem concerned, and thought I was being overly sensitive because I hadn't wanted the branch cut. My reaction was surprising even to me, but I knew I had done something to jeopardize the tree's health. I felt deep grief, and went out to "speak" to the spirit of the tree. I apologized and told it I would listen and act upon what I heard from that time forward. There was no answer from the tree, just a deep feeling of sadness.
As the year progressed, the little tree began to wither. Leaves and berries that previously came forth in profusion did not appear. By the following year, it was clear that the tree was dying. I knew that somehow cutting the branch for the purpose of making it look "perfect" contributed to its death. There was nothing I could do.
As I reflected on that tree and the message I'd been given, I saw how we as humans have the capacity to be part of a harmonious flow with nature. But when we allow our will to supersede nature's direction, we become unconscious perpetrators of destruction. We need to develop a capacity to listen as we walk in the garden. Then we can expand our awareness to a feeling level of what the garden has to communicate to us. Truly fine landscape architects know this. They walk the land they are to design. They feel the needs of the garden. Their purpose, like that of a great artist, is to liberate the essence and vibrancy within the land. By working WITH nature, a symphony of beauty is created. Through the imposition of our will alone, we lose the benefit of nature's wisdom.