Rabindranath Tagore elegantly described a recurring mythology of numerous cultures:
“Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven”.
Growing up in the Midwest, my only knowledge of the forest were the Enchanted Forests from childhood fairy tales. When older, I hiked and camped in the woods, but I was a tourist, just passing through. Only after moving to the mountains outside Denver, CO, a few years ago did I come to know the Magical Enchantment – not the fairy tale variety – but the spirituality that you come to feel deep within your soul.
Trees were a recurring focus of the writings of philosophers such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir. Gautama Buddha found enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. Through her paintings of the trees of the Pacific Northwest, Emily Carr conveyed her heartfelt sacredness of the forest – “God breathes in the forest”. Georgia O’Keeffe so strongly identified with trees, she said, “When I paint I am trees.”
What is this spirituality of trees that so captivates artists, poets, and philosophers?
Over the past couple years I have been exploring that very question. Like Emerson, the trees “...challenge me to read their riddle”. This creative journey has taken me deep into the forests close to my home, the Santa Fe National Forest (NM), and the Olympic National Park (WA).
My quest continues.