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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trees and other signs of creation

Elul 22

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.       
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest           
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;   
A tree that looks at God all day,     
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;    
A tree that may in summer wear    
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
Who intimately lives with rain.         
Poems are made by fools like me,   
But only God can make a tree.
(Joyce Kilmer)

My earliest memories of poetry and of gratitude for nature live in this poem. Kilmer’s observations and simple appreciation touched mine; I have, ever since, been moved by the very presence of trees. To me trees are constant reminders and symbols of pure creation.

e.e. cummings communicates this and more when he writes:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings;and of the gay
great happening ilimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any - lifted from the no
of all nothing - human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

These words, themselves, and the encounter with the grandeur of creation they suggest, are a meditation for these days of Elul.  This, alone, can return us with gratitude to a sense of appreciation and gratitude for everything.

The prayer of Reb Nachman offers another lovely way to pause, reflect, and be grateful as we return - to nature, to creation, to God:

God, grant me the ability to be alone!
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass
among all growing things,
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer,
to talk with the One to whom I belong.
May I express there everything in my heart,
and may all the foliage of the field
all grasses, trees and plants awaken at my coming,
to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer
so that my prayer and speech are made whole
through the life and the spirit of all growing things,
which are made as one by their transcendent Source.
May I then pour out the words of my heart
before your Presence like water, God,
and lift up my hands to You in song,

(Adapted from Likutey Moharan, Part I, # 52)

Rabbi Jim Bennett

1 comment:

  1. Every tree is itself a poem: confined to the form of fractal formation, yet unique from all other trees. Each tree knows its relation to earth, to sky, and to all the other trees around it. Trees give with no expectation of return. Did they have to smell so good? Did their leaves have to turn such beautiful colors in Autumn? No, but I'm so glad they do these things.