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Summer 2002 Edition

Two Sisters
by Sue Holloway

The human spirit...can only attain its full breadth and depth
if it embraces all living creatures....
Albert Schweitzer

It was the first day of spring. While out walking, I came upon a work site where men were re-shingling a house in cedar. To more easily access the side of the house, they had dug up two rhododendron the size of trees. They lay, with scant clumps of roots left, exposed and frozen.

Next day, I returned, noting the condition of the trees: still alive. But soon, the trees began to decline. Four days after they were dug up, the leaves began to turn brown.

Since no one was living in the house, I enquired of a workman if they were going to re-plant the trees. He offered one to me.

That night, I went out to the side of the yard and began to dig. The earth was frozen, and the wind struck with iced claws. Snow swirled in phantom clouds of glitter. Laboriously, I removed only a few inches of soil, realizing I was hitting the roots of nearby trees. There was no point in putting them in jeopardy, also...

Inside, I mourned. The words of Albert Schweitzer came to mind: "to think out in every implication the ethic of love for all of creation...is the difficult task which confronts our age."

The plight of the tree haunted me. Finally, I stopped walking down that road. I couldn’t bear to look, any more.

Then one day in April, it warmed slightly, and snow turned to rain. I thought of the tree. Was the rain washing away the last of the dirt, leaving the roots completely barren? When I went to look, the soil remained intact around the roots; the tree, still alive.

A neighbor a few houses down was in her garden, gathering dead branches. She agreed to find a space for the rhododendron, and suggested the use of her wooden cart, to bring it up the road. Together, we planted her, and my neighbor provided not only food and water, but also Bach rescue remedy.

And though it seemed logical to trim her back, to ‘save’ waning energy, it didn’t feel appropriate. In spite of weeks of deprivation, the little tree was filled with buds. She wanted to bloom. For days, we fed her Bach drops, and she never drooped.

As spring flourished, so did she; weeks later, covered with bright pink clusters.

* * *

I have read that meditating and sending good will to plants helps them to grow and flourish. If it’s edible plants, they even increase nutrient value. From the little tree, I learned more about the relationship of humans and plants.

Looking back in my journals, tracing my notes about the experience with the two trees, I discovered that something happened, not only to the tree, but also to myself. While the ground was frozen, and all I could do was pray for the trees, an extraordinary sense of love coursed through me.

In the last days of this brutal winter, I experienced a heightened sense of gratitude for life, no longer feeling hostage, being inside. For example, the smells and textures and tastes of fruits gave me a calm sense of pleasure. I called it a "fruit odyssey," and found myself walking around, picking things up, touching, smelling, feeling incredibly alive.

When we act consciously, in a stream of good will, life changes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


A Reverence for Life: the words of Albert Schweitzer, compiled by Harold Robles. (1993). San Francisco: Harper San Francisco.

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