The Power of Connection

Lessons from the White Oak

“Ritual” is a word that didn’t used to be in my vocabulary. Usually I would associate this word either as one used mostly by anthropologists or with people who were into New Age-y stuff.

More recently I’ve gotten immersed in a lot of ritual work primarily around ancestral healing. I’ve also been learning ritual as a way to honor and connect with the natural world. I use “natural world” a little loosely here because humans are part of nature. We have a tendency to see ourselves of observers and engineers of nature. It’s easy to forget that we’re part of the system.

It’s also easy to forget that not-human beings have a lot to teach us. When I remember I’m part of a complex system and by no means the most important part, I realize I am entirely dependent on the not-human world. This feels humbling in a good way.

While reaching out to the not human world in ritual, a white oak near my house drew my attention. When something from the outdoor world catches my attention in this way, I wonder what it has to teach me. It felt the oak wanted me not only to see it but to learn more about it. To learn more about oaks in general and about this one in particular.

I learned that oak trees grow very slowly and are very strong. From the leaves and acorns I identified this tree as a white oak. White oaks are not native to Colorado where I live. So this tree was probably planted nearly 100 years ago when the neighborhood was constructed. White oaks spread their limbs in a circular fashion and made wonderful shade trees.

At the time I connected with this oak tree, I was feeling restless and impatient with my life. I put my business on hold nearly four-years ago and haven’t yet decided on a new career focus. It’s not that I’ve languished, I haven’t. From a personal growth perspective this has been a very fruitful period. But it hasn’t been a “put lots of stuff out in the world” period.

So from the oak, I heard, “Be patient and appreciate the importance of slow growth. Appreciate the strength and wisdom that comes with this period. Be patient with yourself.”

That’s what this oak tree had to say to me.

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