The Winter Wisdom Of The Weeping Willow Tree
What can we learn from a Weeping Willow Tree that sheds in the winter in preparation for the Springtime?
There is a Weeping Willow tree across the road from where I live that grows with wild abandon. It is nestled in front of an old electricity hut and positioned in-between two rows of terraced houses tightly knitted together almost in an urban attempt to give this tree the space it needs.
Perhaps it’s the solitary nature of the tree that seems to not be directly connected to the land of any of the houses on either side that gives it it's right to spread out into the surrounding air space spilling over abundantly onto the pavement and walkway.
Walking past the tree requires either stepping into the road and strongly increasing your chances of being hit by one of the many cars that race daily up and down this road or delicately pushing your way through the dangling rope like catkins of the willow branches hanging like curtains that need to be pushed apart so you can take your next step. It won't be long before the tree's hanging branches will hit the road and the bodies of the cars obscuring windscreens before I suspect something will be done about cutting it back, I hope not too drastically.
I first met the tree in springtime of this year. At the time the tree was resplendent in its blossoming of flowing wavy branches and long dangling catkins. In the summer it played magic with the sunlight sometimes becoming almost invisible until one of her swinging branches hit you in the face as you walked past.
The Weeping Willow Tree in the Springtime
Then last week as I headed out for my early morning walk around the neighbourhood I looked up the street in the trees direction and realised almost overnight she had gone almost bald. The lime blushed green of the trees long dangling catkins had been thinned out and threadbare, washed out from the lack of green chlorophyll that turns leaves green.
The same Weeping Willow Tree Christmas 2016.
The trees appearance took me by surprise. I am sure the week before the tree was fully clothed. It appeared as if the disrobing had happened overnight as can the events in our own lives that sometimes derail and leave you feeling bare like the Willow looked.
It was a reminder that each of the seasons carries its own medicine. That the winter of the Willow tree even though it may appear at first glance to have deprived the tree of its full glory was also a time of rest and renewal a chance for the tree to take out to prepare for new growth that will arrive in the springtime.
This is true for life events and personal experiences that leave us devastated. We forget that this season of our lives can also be an opportunity to start over again, to in time when we have healed to plant new seeds and of the importance of making time to rest and renew our energies especially when going through difficult or turbulent times. It can be easy to forget that nature knows the science of the seasons much better than we do and that the cycle of the seasons is a mirror for the cycle of our own lives and the things we experience. In time if we trust enough and when we do the inner work rather than conceptualise what needs to be done we will grow new hopes and possibilities as we head towards the season of spring in our own cycle of renewal.
I do not write these words from a distance. I am as close to the Willow tree geographically as I am emotionally and psychologically. I too am rendered bare in many areas of my life right now as I rebuild the process of starting over. The space feels tender and vulnerable sure signs that there is a need to rest so cells can be renewed and spirits and energies replenished. "Our cells sometimes need to fall like leaves from the trees before they can regenerate and be renewed," writes Madison Taylor in one of her weekly blog posts on the Daily Om website.
As I watch the Willow tree I am reminded of its resilience, of how in its stillness it will gather strength and take the lessons from this quiet period of its life into the next cycle confident that what will come will be a new period of fertility and growth.
I take comfort and courage from the Willow’s nakedness as I tenderly nurse my own dreams back into a new lease of life. To the naked eye the tree may appear dormant when in fact everything underground is moving even though it is not yet visible from the outside. New leaves are preparing to sprout and bud. By time the spring arrives the tree will burst into bloom in a space of time that seems sudden but which in fact took time.
Change can be like that. Often the change takes place within invisible externally before you see and experience the full effect of the change process on the outside.
Trees are both teachers to us about the delicacy and fragility of life and all that it brings. A tree becomes a tree from the possibility of one seed from a thousand taking root. Knowing this makes me think that each tree is literally a miracle and could we not say the same for us humans?
My reverence for the nature and spirit of trees has resulted in a newly published Writing With Fabulous Trees Writing Map created in collaboration with the fabulous Shaun Levin of Writing Maps http://www.jackeeholder.com/tree/writing-with-fabulous-trees-writing-map-for-parks-gardens-and-green-space
It's an illustrated collection of 12 Tree inspired writing prompts that explores the wisdom and lessons we can learn from trees as well as how tree wisdoms can provide insight and reflection on our own lives. In a handy pocket sized map that folds out the prompts also encourages a more intimate connection with the trees in your local neighbourhood, parks and green spaces through engagement with the writing prompts.
Get writing with the trees and see what trees teach you about life and living.
Click here to order a copy of the new Writing With Fabulous Trees Writing Map