Abenaki Trees

First, remember to
as your heart beats upon the wind mixed with your own breath, 
then let it slip through trees, slide over ponds, along the ridged backs of the mountain, the spine of the deer, the moose, the human being.    Now
 your breath and the earth’s circles the globe in gusts, and gales. 
Ask: What isn’t full of breath? 
Mud breathes. Rocks breathe.  
Science tells us that trees collect sunlight, moisture, earth and water, convert it to oxygen, exhale it from the canopies of forests.  When Henry David Thoreau needed more wildness than civilized Concord and even his beloved Walden Pond could provide, he went to the deep Maine forests.  He sought out the people called the Abenaki who lived in the deep green Maine woods.The  Abenaki’s  believed, according to Thoreau, that trees “possess a spirit as real as that of a human.”   When the Abenaki needed  to cut a tree for their shelter and transport, they asked forgiveness of that tree’s spirit and thanked it for providing sustenance.
Inhale, then
exhale like a mountain,
like the ocean..
It was in Thoreau’s nature and his philosophy to know trees as the Abenaki knew them, as the very stuff of life.  For him the indiscriminate clear-cutting of the Maine woods by the white man was a tragedy, and he mourned their death. 
Still, we neglect what we cannot see:
Exhale, and consider this
There are two ways to notice breath:  
The first is when it demands your attention
 as you gasp for air. 
 The second is by choice, 
since the mind ignores the breath.
The mind is a noisy dive filled with drunks shouting trash talk over each other, 
 the loud band that plays the same bad music in endless loops. 
We sit on the bar stool drunk on thoughts, barely breathing.       
Buddhists speak of the emptiness that is our essence.  
But how can something invisible be real? We ask as we take the next invisible breath.   
We are  full
 of what is formless.  
Our hearts charged with electricity.            
Thoreau and the Abenaki saw the living being called “tree.”  They knew its oxygenated, watery blood coursed within its rough skin.  To know a tree is more than its bark, more than that it’s fallen leaves, more than its dead fuel for fire, more than our wooden ships, more than the solid floor beneath our feet. 
Even death breathes life into the dusty world. 
This mystery is no mystery to wildness, to  the trees, whose bodies in death as are diffused as mulch and fungus and firewood that offer shelter and nourishment.
We too, exhaling our final breath, leave our minerals for new life as wind scatters our ashes into the soil.
 Exhale winter, inhale spring, exhale summer inhale autumn
Only with the great green lungs of forests, 
we breathe.


One thought on “Abenaki Trees

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s