During the final stage of a recent solo NatureConnect session in an intimate forest enclosed gully, I met a thick, gnarly old eucalypt quietly beckoning me. In my meditative state I was drawn to the gaping crevasse spreading up the trunk, my intrigue pouring into the dark recesses of the tree’s innards. Extending a metre or more, its rounded bark lips invited me inwards to a dark space, the transition between the outer and the inner. I reflected how appropriate for it to be dark for how often are transitional spaces (personal and global) filled with destabilising dark emotions?
The tree’s recess, along the back and sides, was lined with black charcoal lumps, scars from an encounter with a big fire many years previous. Blocks of black hanging persistently within her centre. A reminder that even trees carry the scars of long-ago events that threatened and flowed by, like thoughts flowing across the surface of my mind. Cobwebs trace the journey of other lifeforms making a home within the emptiness. Dead leaves line the bottom. Death within life. They fluttered down, caught by the winds and now lie trapped within this organic cavern.
I was struck by the symbolism of the dark recess, of the opening of the hidden into the awareness of the world outside. Scars run deep, life burnt and blackened by trauma. As if the tree had ripped her chest open, exposing the private world never wanting to be shared, to be gazed at with the unknowing eye. I felt into this intimate transitional space, between the known and the mystery and wondered how her initial vulnerability following the firey onslaught grew into this strong, sculpted presence. Within the recesses of my stillness, I heard her voice:
“I bare what I may, I have lived into this scarring, I stand here before you in this expression of strong openness and invite passerbys the opportunity for being present to my presence. This is an opening into my inner world, scarred but not broken, exposed and vulnerable yet held and protected. You too have your scars, inner recesses that you hide. The hidden world can be navigated without shutting down, can be exposed to those who can hold your vulnerability and pain as they would a baby in their arms. Feel into these silent worlds, listen and surrender to the opportunities the vulnerability offers. When the fires of suffering expose your resistance to expressing vulnerability and sense of inadequacies, can you live into the truths within and beyond the scarring?”
After embracing the trees trunk with its open scar, I intuited a personal meaning of this encounter. I felt awed by the trees dignified presence, a strength radiating from its vulnerability, an aesthetic picture pregnant within the potential meaning of transitional spaces. I pondered my own vulnerabilities, my resistances to trusting the Universe and letting go of harsh self-judgments that have hindered my journey.
As I walked away from this encounter, my mind contemplating the symbolic transitional space of the tree’s blackened recess, I was reminded of the old inner fires burning within: uncertainty in how to deal with vulnerable, crippling existential doubts, acknowledging suffering, surrendering what needed to be released. Yearnings and questioning that guided yet distracted my growth into the Wholeness that I had always been but forgotten. The tree’s question to me about living into my own personal truth echoed within over the coming days and I remembered the advice of Rainer Maria Rilke, the sensitive Austrian poet:
“Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Live the questions, hold them, nourish them, keep your mind and heart open as difficult as it may be in these times of frustration and grief to the offerings of all beings, even their ‘imperfections’ – scars and exposed recesses. Remaining open, being mindful of our vulnerabilities and living the questions that matter provide the fertile ground for unending wisdom, for living into not just “answers” but the grounded connectedness of our authentic being.