I recently went camping with my daughter at King's Canyon Sequoia National Park. While we were there, Tess I did all the tourist-y stuff, including stopping at "General Sherman", supposedly the world's largest sequioa, surrounded by loud tourists videotaping each other in front of signs.
General Sherman, and all the huge sequioas in this grove, is fenced off. Sequioas (sequioadendron gigantea, for all you plant geeks out there) have very shallow root systems, and if they get walked on too much, it can kill them.
I set Tessie up on the fence. Babe, this tree is phenomenal. A few of the stats: 65 feet in diameter, somewhere between 2300-2700 years old. A living ent, if there ever was one.
As I was saying, I set Miss Tess up on the fence. She got quiet, for the first time the entire weekend. Being a metaphysical fool, I said, "Tessie, can you hear the tree talking to us?"
"Trees don't talk, silly mama."
"Yes they do, but they don't talk to our ears, like people do, they talk directly to our hearts.
"Sit quietly, and feel here" - I touched her chest - "and listen with your heart."
She sat, I stood behind her, balancing her on the fence.
"Can you hear it, Tessie?" For some reason, we're whispering.
"What's it saying?"
"It's saying that it loves me."
A miracle! She sits still, for longer than she has for the entire weekend, except, perhaps, when strapped, immobile, sometimes against her will, in the car seat. This is child who can normally wear her pretty high energy mama out in considerably less than a weekend.
"Ready to go?" (I was starving.)
"Wait mama, I'm still talking to the tree."
"What are you saying?"
"I was telling the tree that we love it."
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I get to feel like I'm a great mom - few and far between, perhaps, but it happens. This was one of those times.
I don't really know if I think that trees talk, or not. But this tree has an incredible, spiritual presence. It took my breath away, but it also took Tessie's away, and this is the first time I've noticed her sharing this kind of awareness.
Either way, this memory floods me with the same sense of[awe that I felt standing in the grove. It also fills me with pleasure that Tessie seems to hold the same love of the outdoors and wild nature that I do. We spent a lot of the weekend talking about bears, bugs], stars, you name it, but this was the moment that will stick with me the longest.
I don't belive in god, at least not as our current xenophobic and paranoid western christianity describes him/it. (Jesus wants american military supremacy...) When people ask about my spirituality, my flippant response is usually that I am a buddhist unitarian quaker pagan, or variations on that. In part because I subscibe to pieces of all those, and partly because for me, it is an extremely private question. Normally they don't ask anything else, but if they do, I can indeed, describe what I mean by that combination, up to a point. I'm more likely to exclaim "ye gods and goddesses!" or "thank the gods", (or "bother" as winnie the pooh does), when I need emphasis. (Although I have been known to mutter "hell, hell, hell", in certain situations, and out of Tessie's hearing.) But the point is, if parenting is about transmitting values, among other things, it seems to be working.
"Mama, I'm still telling the tree that WE love IT."