Virginia St. Claire
Liquid Light Blog
People keep asking me to share my thoughts. They tell me I often bring a new perspective, one which helps shed light on something that has been troubling them. I’m an eclectic being. The thoughts shared here range from nature to relationships, from musings about the place of a higher power in life to those on creativity and self-care.
Naturally, this being a new venture, we’ll see how it goes. I trust the process and trust my place in it. What can I say about myself that gives me the credentials to write blog posts and think anyone will be uplifted by reading them? This is indeed my heartfelt hope, that in reading there will be light, there will be upliftment, there will be wings to soar on. There will be a new burst of energy to face and honor this life, this one day at a time life, to give the moment its due, to not miss it no matter how difficult or sublime it is. This is my hope, that the liquid of liquid light will flow, that it will not be stopped up, that the unfolding grace of a human life will emerge in its true magnificence and innocence.
This is my wish, that every one of us who share this exquisite planet will know the fulfillment of our heart’s deepest desire. And what is that? That we will know we are one, that we will find that our hearts have spontaneously opened to ourselves and one another. We will see that this moment in time is the only one there is, that past will take its sweet place in the past, and future will stay where it rests out there, not reachable until it, too, becomes “this moment.”
I swim on my back in the ocean, look at the sky, and revel in “this moment.” May I not miss anything in this glorious journey, may I be present to each thing as it comes and face it with courage and resolve. Courage, meaning ‘with heart’ and resolve? May I know that the universe itself is the resolver of everything. I don’t need to worry about resolving; I just need to show up, keep my eyes open and keep breathing. The universe moves while I watch, interested but gently standing aside while the work is done. Yes, my hands may be used; yes, my voice may be heard, and I still know without any doubt that it is not the me called Virginia who acts or speaks.
As we drove north from Auckland into Maori country, Victoria asked me if I’d like to visit Tane Mahuta, the 2000+ year old kauri tree that is protected in the bush along our route. I ask about the kauris. She points to several along the way, tall absolutely straight light gray trunks rising here and there on either side of the road. She tells me from Captain Cook onward, the kauris were cut down to make masts for the tall ships that sailed the seas. Tane Mahuta has been protected; others are hidden in the bush.
I wonder, “Is Tane Mahuta big enough that the three of us”—Victoria’s teenage daughter, Charlotte, sits in the back seat—“can circle it with our arms?”
“I don’t know, “ she says. “Maybe not.”
We arrive at the parking lot, clean our shoes in the prescribed manner, begin our walk on the boardwalk through the bush that protects Tane Mahuta’s roots from visitors. I still chat a bit; then quiet takes me over. We round a bend and there is Tane Mahuta. I burst into tears. And don’t stop crying. A Maori gentleman recites a poem about the tree in Maori to a small group of visitors. I keep crying. We move to a more remote viewing spot. I keep crying. Finally, we walk back to the car and go on our way to spend several days with friends.
On the way back, Victoria again asks if I’d like to visit Tane Mahuta. Of course. Again, I burst into tears on seeing the magnificent tree. It is protected by a guard rail so I can look but not approach. It is enough. A young Maori woman sings to the tree while visitors look on. Then she says that every Maori child knows this poem: “I am only a tiny seed, but one day I will be great.” Like the kauri tree, the child will grow in strength and beauty.
Why the tears? I ask myself. Tane Mahuta means “lord of the forest.” The tree has been standing since the time Jesus walked on the Earth. It welcomes me and thousands of visitors through the years. It has been watched over by the Maori people who are also its ambassadors.
What touches me? The steadfastness of the tree and of its caregivers. It stands. Reaching down into the earth, rising to the sky, it stands. Like any living being that has been around for a long time, it has scars, it’s easy to see that it has had a rich life. I think that makes it wise. I trust that is so.
The Year of the Tree
About four years ago I suddenly found myself paying attention to trees. I’ve always loved them. I have been a tree-hugger since childhood, but this is different. I begin to feel a tree, to feel that we are siblings or at least, members of the same tribe.
I heard that when the birds begin to sing their spring nesting songs, the trees know that is the time for their leaves to unfurl. Millions of buds burst forth with new life. I long to know my place in Nature like that.
I began to think: we humans are in a symbiotic relationship with the trees. We breathe in the air and use the oxygen while releasing the carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere for them. They do the opposite: breathe in the air and return the oxygen for us to use. Why I never thought of this before is beyond me, but I didn’t. We’re in a dance with the trees as are all the other oxygen using creatures on the planet.
Next I thought that if that’s the case what an intimate relationship we have with each other. Breath is our most essential need. We can do without food, without water for some days, but without breath we quickly die. We know the rainforest is being decimated. Who would mindlessly destroy the brother and sister who fulfill our most essential need?
Then I thought of all of us who wish for the grace to support our beleaguered planet as it heals from the travesty we commit on it everyday. I believe the trees support that. We are all part of the same tribe, the trees, we humans, and, of course the deer, the bears, the foxes, the birds . . . I feel less alone with the task of returning to the light and love which, I believe, alone can heal us and our home. I send blessings to this tree, now that tree, now all the tree families. I say thank you.
The way we look at life in the West is to assume that human beings are the pinnacle of creation, that animals and plants and rocks are lesser evolved—if at all. The people of Burkina Faso in West Africa see the pyramid of evolution completely the opposite. The quieter something is, the more evolved it is. Then animals are more evolved than humans; trees and plants more evolved yet. I naturally extrapolated from that that rocks and the most evolved of all. I like shaking my beliefs up and seeing things from a new perspective. Enter: The Year of the Tree.
So it became for me the Year of the Tree. When the next year came around I wondered what it would be the year of. Ah, another Year of the Tree, and then the next year? Another. Now I do look at trees differently from the way I saw them in the past. I do see them as steadfast in the journey toward faithfulness and truth. They stand. May I stand.