Home » Poetry » In silence, the tree

In silence, the tree

In silence, the tree.
Sitting under a tree, so often, alone.
Alone, but with God.
My abandonment by my parents made me
seek my true Parent, my Source,
my beginning and my end.
Where I came from, and where I will go.

In death, the tree
still. A place of silence for mourners.
Grown from an acorn in the hand,
nourished by the ashes of bones.
Live giving energy from the litter of leaves,
life from death.

The tree of silence,
the tree I walked so fast to I thought
my lungs would burst.
To sit under, alone
when my parents were again
arguing. Unreasonable. Unlistening.

Under that tree I knew God was listening.

It isn’t our tree. It isn’t a shrine.
It isn’t the bodhi tree of the Buddha,
sat under by bored and scowling monks,
waiting, waiting, waiting.
It isn’t the tree in the garden,
the tree of temptation.
Who would put poisoned candy
within reach of children anyway?
(Is that the truth of Sleeping Beauty?)

It is the tree of Zacchaeus,
desiring to see the Lord,
stunned that he was noticed
and singled out.

It is the tree in a flood,
a place of refuge, a sure point.
It is the tree of the cross.

I sit at the base, alone
yet surrounded by then and now and
future, of past and far away
witnesses to the
Glory that is God.

It is the tree in the backyard
At the group home –
I didn’t know where I was.
I didn’t know who those people were.
I didn’t know how to get home.
But I knew that tree was safe.

The light was bright on my
pale skin, but I knew the leaves
would protect me.
Natural sunscreen, that green shade.

How frightened I was by that rope,
frayed, high up
like a snake, a lariat, a noose.
The electric fear even now
lets me know
I am safe.

My fear of death, of
harm to myself at my own hand
is so great I feel a charge,
a shock, a jolt.
That knife laid out on the counter is a sign.
My fear of it lets me know that I’m safe.

God is stronger than my weakness,
And God needs my weakness to
get in.


(I was at a retreat on 4-6-13 and we were told to sit in silence and think about something that was big that happened to us for 20 minutes. We were to try to remember the sensations of being there. I thought I was going to think about when my parents died, but the image of me sitting under a tree came to me. I decided to go with it, and I thought about all the times I had sat under a tree. There are a lot. And I thought about what that meant. I spent a lot of time alone as a child. I’m coming to understand that. I’m beginning to process that. I think the abandonment by my parents caused me to seek God.)

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