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The On Being Project

To Have the Good and Grace of Trees

When I feel disheartened, one of the most reliable resources of renewal I know is the work of my friend and colleague, Carrie Newcomer.

Carrie’s music, her words, and the spirit that shines through them are full of insight, warmth, and light — and a deep understanding of the challenges we all face in trying to be human and humane in a world of too much frenzy, anger, and violence.

Here’s a Carrie Newcomer poem I discovered last year. As I read it, I found myself breathing again. This weekend, I plan to spend time in the woods, learning how to be more like trees.

“To Be Like A Tree”
by Carrie Newcomer

See how the trees
Reach up and outward
As if their entire existence
Were an elegant gesture of prayer.
See how they welcome the breath of spirit,
In all its visible and invisible forms.
See how the roots reach downward and out,
Embracing the physical,
The body and bones
Of its soul of earth and stone,
Allowing half its life to be sheltered
in the most quiet and secret places.

Oh, if I could be more like a tree on this Sunday morning,
To feel the breath of invisible spirit
Touch me as tenderly as a kiss on the forehead.
If I could courageously and confidently
Dig down into the dark
Where the ground water runs deep,
Where shelter and sanctuary
Can be had and held.

Ah, to be like a tree
With all its bent and unbent places,
A whole and holy thing
From its topmost twigs
To the deepest taproot
To all the good and graceful
Spaces between.

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