A long time ago I drew a picture. Maybe a story onto it self being that I'm the daughter of an artist and always thought my efforts with pencil and paper were inadequate. A harsh inner critic makes for tough soil in which to grow. That however is another story. The drawing, ironically, was of a tree. A tree. A woman. An alchemy of both. I still have the sketch book where tree woman lives. To this day she stands out in my mind as somehow important. She just poured herself onto the page, easy and effortless, like she belonged there.
The first drawing was in 1998. My first year of college. The beginning phase of wild and bold growth in the big world of the mainland. My island home held my roots, my foundation felt clear. But who was I becoming? What potential was growing? I was on a grand and curious adventure.
The image of woman as tree became a repeating theme. I kept drawing her. She became a reference point in my own emergence. I kept feeling her wild roots weaving tangled tapestries of stability through earthy darkness. This offered some kind of reminder to my own root of knowing. The elegance of her trunk was always sturdy and graceful ever rising, reaching, expanding. She felt purposeful, important in her is-ness.
No matter how many times I repeated the image, I was always brought back to the first one and how effortlessly she came. Sometimes firsts are like that - our minds aren't in the way with anything to compare ourselves to and without trying they just happen with a certain kind of grace. As I recall this picture now and the story of her I feel the wisdom of beginners mind, staying in that place of curious discovery, reaching toward the light of our inspiration with an child like innocence. As I reflect back I wonder if this drawing was some kind of messenger, an invitation to stay present, rooted, open and curious as I ascended into my own fullness as a woman.
Since I was a child I always wanted to be more than I was. Better somehow. My mother was a master, so graceful in her art. I played (and prayed) through many different mediums, making messes in my seeking and reaching, impatient to find my art. I wanted it to happen quickly, holding my burning torch of desire, my need to know. Of course not realizing then that the flame (of my impatience) can burn the tender shoots of new growth.
Maturing is challenging business; to stretch skin, grow bones, find manners, pray for grace. Like the tree, once it starts it doesn't stop. Growth defies resistance. Of course resistance tends to arrive none the less adding contours and curves as we push and bend and inevitably rise toward what we desire - be it light, inspiration, experience. No matter how many times I've wanted to hide, to turn back, to climb back in to the belly of the earth where tender roots are embraced by soft earth, where life seems safe, my destiny was, is, to stretch wide open and rise. (Crooked path and all).
In December I took a long walk in the silence of tall trees. I felt myself, a fully embodied woman. And I felt the trees old, wise and elegant. It had been ages since I had last drawn anything but I felt ancient and full of remembering. My spine knew the height of the evergreens. Those elegant columns of wooded reach, a steady commitment reflected back at me. They whispered in the wind, clear and sure of their regal destiny.
Time comes when we slow down and see. The earth echoed with long forgotten voices... I remembered...
I was a priestess and the forest floor was always making quiet business of sacred rituals. My footfalls were sure as my my sight was clear, the light of passion illuminating the path. I knew the way of things then. I felt the truth in all it's raw complex simplicity. I felt it the way the trunk weathers wind and snow, woodpecker and insect bite. I felt it the way the earth grows soft and moss grows close and miniature eco systems emerge.
I sat with sisters who listened around fires, weaving mysteries that gave birth to light. In a circle of stones, like ancient bones of earth where the wisdom rests deep, we sat solid studying the resonance of energy. Of the land we listened with different ears. Like trees, all of us porous to the elements, the phases of moon, the spirals of seasons. We knew the unknown. The histories of women, the earth, the dance... the mysteries of tree, bird, space... the goddess revealed in each place and face.
Seasonal shifts are a natural flow of progress. Inward resting, containing energy in winter where stillness prevails. Peeking open, blossoms emerging as spring awakens desires. Standing present, engaged in the fullness of flower, fruit and perfume bringing ourselves fully to life. Receiving abundance, harvesting the bounty of our own creativity before spiraling through the cycle again. Ever expanding our capacity for creation.
Slowly I am returning. Listening from sky to skin to muscle to bone. Remembering me and what that even means. Fruit falls effortlessly from the tree when the season is ripe. I eat slowly, digesting the energy of rainy days, sunny skies, and cloudless moon filled nights. Each taste a reminder of our juicy nature and our unique flavor. Every bite a doorway to presence. I hear my teachers voice echoing "doorway to presence" and I remember it is December and I am standing in the tree forest of Harmony Ridge. There is a moment of stillness so deep that I am the moment, the tree, the woman, the light, the breeze. I am presence it self, unwavering.
It has been years since I drew tree woman, years since I thought of her really. An ancient tarot card pulled from an unassuming stack led me to the memory that invoked remembering. Unexpectedly I'm grateful for the metaphor, the imagery, the potency of tree woman and how much she encapsulates the richness of my growing, ever expanding story. She's come again to remind me of the nature of things. Reflecting my own nature. Reminding me to honor the cycle of seasons, have reverence for relationships and know that I am never separate.
I am tree woman. Ancient and elegant. Connected to enriching source. Growing in ever widening rings. Arriving in my fullness. Rising toward the light. Simply rocking my juicy life. I don't draw much anymore, but I feel Her when my bare feet walk on wet earth, I feel Her when a quick wind rustles the tendrils of my hair, I feel Her when I reach and bend. Supple and solid I feel Tree Woman within. And I rise.