168. The Great Fir

It takes a lot of determination and perseverance to do chemotherapy, but also to relax into the outcomes of the Eternal plan.


In the center of the back yard, a magnificent fir tree stands. It has always been there. Always, as far as my lifetime, and likely, always as it goes for my parents lifetimes as well. You couldn’t hug it alone. Perhaps two people could circle it and touch fingertips. My guess is that it is nearing its 100th birthday, a centurion among us.

When I sit in the family room, it stands in the middle of the vision out of the window. So during meditation, reading, sharing with family, if I look out, there it is. Stoic. Constant. The overseer, observer, grounding force. It is also the tree that continues to gift us with cones. This year has been less cone-full, perhaps a kindness that it shared because of my inability to do battle, to scoop or rake them up.

The Magnificent Fig Tree

The symbolic meaning of fir trees is vast. The google search uses sunsigns.org for the highlighted answer:

“Fir symbolism stands for power of determination and perseverance. Celts also appreciated the importance of remembering the past, learning from one’s mistakes and cherishing the wonderful times. Life is a gift and fir trees serve to remind us to not take that for granted.”

Sooooo, that pretty much sums up my current life situation. It takes a lot of determination and perseverance to do chemotherapy, but also to relax into the outcomes of the Eternal plan.

Trees bring us to our roots. This tree has been here since we moved here in the early ‘70s, was large in the original pictures of the yard. It was not removed when the housing development was built. It has seen the droughts, storms, and earthquakes of the century. And in our small, Sims like, inconsequential existences, it has watched me grow since I was five (we met before the house was built), watched my children since they were born, watched the beginning of the next generation being presented in the arms of Indrayani, or on Chelsea’s and Nyasha’s leashes.

Learning from our mistakes, we live a quieter, more accepting life. We listen a bit more closely. We feel more intensely. We ponder deeply, and see significance in a broader, more Universal interpretation.

Life IS a gift. We hear the Fir Tree tell us not to take the moments for granted, the visit to the pumpkin farm, the family meals, tie dye on the breeze way, the laughter, the tears.

We are grateful.

142. Picking a Tree

I’m both perplexed and want to burst out in rolling laughter. I don’t care. I really don’t. I thought that choosing the spiritual location for ashes was a gift in itself, but I can choose a tree to represent me as well.

The Earth Sanctuary representative, Chuck, wrote several responses to my questions about choosing a tree from that particular forest for my ashes to “rest”.  It all seems so silly, the way we talk about decomposition of the body, or placement of the ashes.  Living as human is temporary.  Being the true core of your being is permanent.  

<a href="<a title="TimBray / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)" href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Western_red_cedars,_looking_up.jpg"><img width="512" alt="Western red cedars, looking up" src="https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Western_red_cedars%2C_looking_up.jpg/512px-Western_red_cedars%2C_looking_up.jpg"&gt;
Red Cedar Tree is known as the “Tree of Life” Photograph by Tim Bray

The body is disposable, and far more recyclable than a plastic milk bottle.

Apparently, when we visit Whidbey Island in the next two days, I can stop in to the Earth Sanctuary and pick a location.  I’m both perplexed and want to burst out in rolling laughter.  I don’t care.  I really don’t.  I thought that choosing the spiritual location for ashes was a gift in itself, but I can choose a tree to represent me as well.

I think an evergreen is more my style than a deciduous leaf tree.  Something successful, that stands tall enough to see the sun, and creates a lot of oxygen to support the mammals.  A hemlock?  Known for its poetic poison.  A fir?  So, so, so many cones.  The fir trees rain thousands of irritating cones on the lawn at Dad’s house every year.  But in the forest, that is food, for the earth and for the small animals.  

Today, before I am actually walking in the space, I think that the answer is cedar.  The cedar tree is the spiritual representative of the north, of the elders, of those who have gone before us.  It is the regional representative of longhouses, canoes, ropes and baskets.  

The red cedar is known as “the tree of life”.  Life continues.  When I have stepped into death, I continue.  I am here now. I will, in a sense, be here then.

“As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be…” (the Glory Be).