tale of two trees


It is foolish
to let a young redwood
grow next to a house.

Even in this
one lifetime,
you will have to choose.

That great calm being,
this clutter of soup pots and books –

Already the first branch-tips brush at the window.
Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.

-Jane Hirschfield


I thought of happiness, how it is woven
Out of the silence in the empty house each day
And how it is not sudden and it is not given
But is creation itself like the growth of a tree.
No one has seen it happen, but inside the bark
Another circle is growing in the expanding ring.
No one has heard the root go deeper in the dark,
But the tree is lifted by this inward work
And its plumes shine, and its leaves are glittering.

So happiness is woven out of the peace of hours
And strikes its roots deep in the house alone:
The old chest in the corner, cool waxed floors,
White curtains softly and continually blown
As the free air moves quietly about the room;
A shelf of books, a table, and the white-washed wall—
These are the dear familiar gods of home,
And here the work of faith can best be done,
The growing tree is green and musical.

  For what is happiness but growth in peace,
The timeless sense of time when furniture
Has stood a life’s span in a single place,
And as the air moves, so the old dreams stir
The shining leaves of present happiness?
No one has heard thought or listened to a mind,
But where people have lived in inwardness
The air is charged with blessing and does bless;
Windows look out on mountains and the walls are kind.

These two, at first glance, appear to be stating the opposite, but within me they are singing the same melody. That great tree, expanding and reaching beyond the smallness that is one human life, which cannot begin to contain it. This great tree that is Expanding-within, embedded deeply in that very ordinariness of Life, utterly imbued with hidden (though suddenly transparent) Holiness. Those two trees, one and the same, Transcendence and Immanence, Beyond and Closer than the Self.

As I am moved by Wonder, awed by the transcendent beyondness of ‘God’ (and God-language), at the same time I am drawn into the immanence (and Holiness) of the ordinary- the God-within All Oneness.  And the 2 become 1, the union of the inner and outer, the transcendant and the immanent, the wondrous and the ordinary, Godde and I. As I reach for the Thou, I find the I. As I reach for the I, I find the Thou, and in the midst of the Search itself, there is the Holy One. Our reaching and God’s reaching, the same reaching, not mirrors of one another, not even reciprocal, but One.

It is really One breath, not even fair is it to say an inbreath and an outbreath, for it is the same movement, though it looks like Two (separate) to Us. – the reaching beyond and the drawing together – transcendence and immanence, individuation and communion, becoming and Love. As we reach for Love, we are transformed. As we are transformed we reach for Love. We humans participate in and with and for that, as does Goddself, and it is One Holy participation.

And so these ‘2’ trees, for me,  one ‘seemingly’ outside the ‘house’ reaching for immensity, stirring me to wake, the other ‘seemingly’ inside the ‘house’ growing quietly deeper, one ‘spiritual’, one ‘ordinary’ are also the same. The movement of becoming Love…. Reaching and deepening at once.

At least that’s what they spoke to me. Of course, you know, it’s so darn hard to express… this feeling within me.

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