Hello, all! I am hosting Spiritual Thursday this month. I appreciate Denise Krebs for connecting me with this thoughtful writing circle and I hope you enjoy my post - and that you leave a comment with a link to your blog post below. Thank you!
“Community is society with a human face,
the place where we know we are not alone.”
- Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
As a preschool teacher, the goal of building community in my classroom was near and dear to my heart every September. I was constantly thinking, how might I help these young children see themselves as part of the larger group, a community? How might I encourage them to share their individual voices and stories, and, also, to listen and welcome those of others? How might I help them see that this is our classroom, and that we work together to create this loving and beautiful shared space?
I suppose this is why I chose the word “community” as a theme for September’s Spiritual Journey. Of course, many months have passed since I signed up to host and my thoughts about community today have led me far from the classroom…let me take you there….
On our summer trip out west, Tony and I were driving along this gorgeous shaded road in Oregon. All these enormous tall Douglas fir evergreens dwarfed the road, providing this dark, magical surround with just a sliver of blue sky breaking through. We were all smiles when we stopped at an overlook of the Rogue River Gorge, and this - like so many other places we visited this summer - took our breath away with its beauty. It was very early in the morning and we were the only people there; I have no doubt this aloneness added a sense of treasure to the view.
|The Rogue River Gorge|
At this overlook, there was this incredible narrow chasm, with the river plunging down, sending water rushing, breaking over large rocks, sending up wild waves and the vibrant sound of rushing water. A sign at the overlook stated that “enough water (410,000 gallons) flows beneath your feet each minute to fill an Olympic-size pool.” The wonder!
Right alongside this chasm was a thick forest of Douglas firs, much like we had witnessed on the drive. The trees stood together, tall, straight, strong, just beautiful, with their criss-cross patterned bark and branches of evergreen needles bending, bowing, enveloping one another. In the midst of these, there was a thick, hearty stump, with an informational sign posted nearby:
The Living Stump
Here on the flat surface of the lava flow, away from the Gorge wall,
the trees live as a group rather than as individuals. The roots of these
Douglas firs have grown together, providing each other with nutrients and water.
Before it was cut, the roots of this tree had grafted onto those of a neighbor.
Because of this, the stump continues to live.
|Douglas firs and the living stump at Rogue River Gorge|
The stump was not decayed, broken, insect-ridden, as one might expect. Instead, it was covered with bark, much like our own cuts and scrapes form scabs, and seemed to be thriving.
I hope to hold onto the image of this forest, these trees encircling and caring for one another, always and forever. I love how instinctive and natural it is for trees to simply reach out towards one another. This experience continues to fill me with contemplation -
How might I be more like these trees?
How do others help me live fully?
How might my own actions help build a more loving human community?
What is my role?
Am I truly there for others?
Am I reaching out to those around me, even those I don’t know very well?
What blocks me from being open to others?
How do I nurture the “we”?
What does it mean to live in community with one another?
How do we help each other live fully?
How might I be more like these trees?
"What I try to tell young people is that if you come together with a mission, and
it is grounded with love and and a sense of community,
you can make the impossible possible."
- John Lewis
In closing, let me share a poem I wrote about this wonder.
along the Rogue River Gorge
with my own eyes
a living stump
a Douglas fir
what I didn’t know before is
this is true for many trees
roots of neighbors
lovingly reach out
nurturing the depleted
let each other know
when they are stressed
live as community
take care of one another
a giving co-living
Maureen, first: Thank you for the powerful prompt of "community". It's something we humans need to consider, revisit, revise on so many levels. I am thinking of your astounding opportunity to help foster community early in life with those preschoolers - community must be taught. It must be valued. It is a challenge to begin seeing beyond oneself to being a part of a whole, where all parts are valued. And I LOVE the connection to trees! I am endlessly fascinated by how they communicate and support one another. Love every single line of your poem, especially "a giving co-living" and "innate wisdom" - trees may have infinitely more of it than we humans. Such a beautiful, inspiring post.ReplyDelete
Here's my reflection... and thank you again:
Thank you, Fran! Yes, I am now trying to learn so much more about trees and how they communicate...absolutely fascinating.Delete
Hello! It's wonderful to meet you through your beautiful post. My goodness, the wonder of that river and living stump, indeed! I love the phrase, "community helpers" from preschool and the idea of looking to the helpers when in need. Your metaphor of the tree with a "scab" and the living because of neighbors resonates with me. Thanks so much for giving me good thoughts to think and ponder today. I have written about a student from my experience yesterday...reminded me of community. I'm off to print a coloring page of a guinea pig just for them.ReplyDelete
and the link to my post: https://awordedgewiselindamitchell.blogspot.com/Delete
Thank you, Linda! Helping is central to community, I think, realizing we ourselves are only one part.Delete
Thanks for hosting today with such an inspiring post, from preschool community to a gathering of trees. Nature is full of knowledge that we should draw upon. Your poem speaks to this so well. "roots of neighbors/ lovingly reach out / nurturing the depleted " is exactly the experience I am speaking of in my post. The community/ communication of trees is fascinating.ReplyDelete
Here's the link to my post: https://reflectionsontheteche.com/2022/09/01/spiritual-thursday-community/
Thank you, Margaret! I am still spellbound by those beautiful trees "in community."Delete
Maureen, thank you for hosting SJT this month. I am struck by the image of the thriving stump. It shows the importance of community and how each member of that community helps and supports those in need. We grow with the support of others.ReplyDelete
Here is the link to my post: https://arjeha.wordpress.com/2022/09/01/spiritual-journey-thursday-community/
Thank you! I love that - "We grow with the support of others." Nature is showing us how important this is!Delete
This is a lovely example of community, Maureen. Thank you so much for sharing it, and for hosting today. My post is at: https://kceastlund.blogspot.com/2022/09/community-braiding-sweetgrass-and-music.htmlReplyDelete
Thank you! I look forward to reading your reflections.Delete
Maureen, the story of the tree stump opens my eyes to the wonder of living, the unity of fellowship, and the gift given by God to all of us if we pause in silence. I am inspired by your post and will continue to contemplate on the questions you posed.Thank you for hosting and filling my heart with the sense of community.ReplyDelete
Maureen, my SJT post can be found at https://beyondliteracylink.blogspot.com/2022/09/community-spiritual-journey-thursday.html. Today is my son's birthday and we just got home from a full and wonderful day.Delete
Thank you, Carol! The stump was truly a wonder...beautiful to behold. You are right about the gifts we receive when we pause in silence.ReplyDelete
And happy birthday to your son! It sounds as if you had a fabulous day!Delete
Thanks, I just shared your wishes with my son. - Carol V.Delete
Maureen, thank you for your beautiful post. The trees and the water rushing in the gorge do look breathtaking! I had read your poem about the living stump, and now to see the photo is really amazing. I never knew that was possible. Yes, to "be more like these trees."ReplyDelete
Thank you for hosting today! Here is my post: https://mrsdkrebs.edublogs.org/2022/09/01/spiritual-journey-thursday-community/
Great to connect with you again, Denise! Thank you for inviting me into this nourishing community of writers and reflection.Delete
and why that above comment was listed as Anonymous, I do not know! These troublesome tics are why I am trying to move my blog to Wordpress...story for another day...Delete
My writing felt rather book-report-ish...but that's about all this brain can muster at the moment: https://horizon51.blogspot.com/2022/09/spiritual-journey-thursday-community.htmlReplyDelete
I tried to leave a comment last night and couldn't, silly technology! Your post is filled with wisdom. I love the image you shared and your thoughts about community, especially the questions you posed. They are especially apt for me as I ponder building community in a new place.ReplyDelete
Here's the link to my post - https://pleasuresfromthepage.blogspot.com/2022/09/spiritual-journey-thursday-how-do-we.htmlDelete
Ramona, sorry my blog commenting was so challenging and I am glad that you persevered! I am finding Blogger to be replete with "little bothers and frustrations" - I will be changing to WordPress in the days ahead, which I hope is easier for me and for commenting by others. Thank you!Delete