Christmas Tree: World Tree

“Now Christmas is past,
Twelfth Night is the last,

To the Old Year adieu,
Great joy to the new!”

— Traditional Carol

This morning dawned bright and cold, – 19 F cold. Lots of evaporative fog over the lake. Major thaw coming later this week?

This morning Jennie left to work in Africa for two weeks. On Twelfth Night*, a couple of days ago, we followed tradition and took down the tree and decorations. Most likely we will continue to find hidden decorations for weeks.

This year we added a snowy owl and a fine St. Nicholas to the ornaments on the tree. The tree, filled with the denizens of land, air, and sea, mirrors our love of the world. It reminds us that the world is more beautiful, complex, and awe-inspiring than we can possibly know.

One of the mysteries of life is the presence of initiatory illness. It’s odd that so many of my teachers and friends had life threatening illness at age seven or eight. My teachers used to tell me that these events open us to the spirit world, and to the profound beauty and mystery of this one. Maybe this is so. I have, since Polio, found the world to be breathtakingly, and heartrendingly, beautifully.

I just looked out the window and saw a large bird flying solo over the lake’s edge. The bird, silhouetted against the gray of lake fog, dipped, flapped once, then headed south, too far away for easy identification.

I find the world to be precious, almost painfully so. In these days when writers proclaim the death of nature I find myself both grieving the destruction of so much I love and fiercely optimistic about the long-term. It seems to me that our belief that we can destroy the planet is pure hubris. I have no doubt we can destroy much, including ourselves as a species, but that is not the same as obliterating nature.

I often wonder whether we look to the natural world for healing, in part, because we know that until the sun’s old age makes the Earth uninhabitable, nature will continue to resiliently populate the world with life. Our Christmas tree reminds us of the fecundity of nature, even as it points to all that is currently endangered. As the World Tree it connects us to all the realms, while holding the reality of loss and suffering and the promise of renewal.

Here, in the Middle World, place of incarnation, place between spirit worlds, we are, individually and collectively, but a moment in the grand experiment of life. How amazing that we can notice our own mortality and still be filled with love and awe for All That Is, especially for the flesh-and-blood others with whom we interact! How mysterious we are! How marvelously unknowable!


*If you would like to know more about Twelfth Night, visit Waverly Fitzgerald‘s blog post about it.

14 thoughts on “Christmas Tree: World Tree

  1. Thank you for this positive message of open love – agape – for the world! I am on day #4 of a miserable cold and really appreciate your wisdom that turns me away from self-pity.

  2. The physical limitations that you speak of often, may have made way for such fluid and graceful thoughts and written expression.

    Grateful for you.

    1. I wonder. I know I am also grateful for you. It is marvelous that somehow across the ethers we are connected. It is such a mystery that after generations of suffering we are still here in the world, doing our best to care for loved ones and friends and the land. I often wonder who dreamed our survival and how they knew we would tend the fires and encourage our kids to do the same. Now we dream into being generations to come, and it is good.

      1. I like that word ‘tending’ very much.So much character and gentleness.

        I think that it might be a year of ‘tending’ for me. It implies self care too.

      2. Yes, tending seems such a good practice, maybe it is a way of being that is at the very heart of what matters. I, too, am learning more about self care. It does indeed seem like a good year for tending. speaking of self care, it is time for bed…..

    2. I was just thinking that learning at such a young age that one can be left utterly alone to face catastrophe and survive, and that one’s life and body can be changed beyond recognition in an instant, might set the stage for a life figuring out how to care, and allow others to care for us, or perhaps create so much fear and rage that one can only lash out at the world. I wonder what leads one down one path instead of the other. Surely this is yet another mystery, one we, individually and collectively, find ourselves exploring alongside those who ask us to walk with them through life or for our aid.

      1. I have heard from other Polios who have seen it that Breathe is quite moving. I’ve been hoping that it would come to our local art theatre but it has not not as yet. We will see it one way or another I am sure. Let me know what you think if you see it.

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