My earliest memory of the house I grew up in is of walking into the backyard and staring up at this huge pine tree. (At least huge for a four-year-old.) I remember walking up to it and patting it. It was one of the tallest trees in the neighborhood, and I could always tell where the house was by spotting it.
Over the years, I was afraid that tree would fall over in a hurricane. I know to give the tree more credit.
That pine tree has withstood hurricanes, snowstorms. Drought, rainstorms. Deep freezes and stifling heat. Lesser living things would have wilted, fallen over, from such beatings year after year after year.
Its roots are strong and deep, so when Hurricane Isabel hit my hometown five years ago, it bent and swayed under the roar of the wind, and the pounding of the rain. But when the sun came out, it stood as tall as ever. And ready to continue growing.
That tree offers shade, comfort, beauty, a guidepost, strength. The tree may not have a heart that beats like mine, but it still gives. It still grows. I don't want to be that tree.
I am that tree.
As that tree, for decades, has been giving, so have I. Why I would give anything less than that is beyond me. As it takes rain and air and grows, so do I. It knows the loop, and I know the loop.
Year after year, that tree stands there, but is never still. It sways with the winds, its pine needles and cones fall to the earth, the rain nourishes every pore. It is not still. As the earth moves, it moves with the earth.
It withstands so much, and it gives so much more. As it gives to the earth and takes from the earth, so do I give to others and take from others.
I am that tree.
Om mani padme hum.