Praying With The Trees


There are certain trees in the woods where I walk that I know better than others.  There’s something in them that calls out to me.  It’s usually something in their size or shape that pulls me.  One has a thick scar that reaches up from the ground to the highest branch.  One has an infinite well of water held in its trunk.  One is already dead, shedding its bark and hollowed out by woodpeckers and small animals who have made it their home.

I sit in the tree,  or one the ground leaning my back against its massive trunk.  Or I stand  on its roots  and wrap my arms around it.  I close my eyes and listen and feel.

I’ve come to believe that because trees take so long to grow, because they’re on a different time line than us, one that sometimes takes years for the smallest change to take place, that when I connect with them, I get to experience their reality of time.  That means for me, everything slows down.  I quickly drop out of my head and into my body.  Usually I feel it in the bottom of my belly.  As if somehow the tree empties me out and creates space inside of me.  I feel a vibration traveling up and down my legs.

My thoughts quiet.  Sometimes I get words or images, much like when I listen to the animals.

Sometime I just get still.

After this my walk is  different.  Moving slower, I’m more aware of what’s around me, what’s right in front of me.  And the prayer continues as I make my way home.

Because that’s what I’ve come to think of  what happens between me and the trees.  A prayer.

I was raised Catholic, but I never understood the concept of prayer.  When I was kid and  my family visited the cemetery where my grandmother was buried, after planting flowers, my mother (who is not religious)  would tell us to say a prayer.  I never knew what to say.  The only prayer I knew was The Lord’s Prayer and reciting it made no sense to me at all and it  had nothing to do with my grandmother.

I never understood how reciting a prayer after confession would absolve my sins.  And I never found comfort in the words.  They never had meaning for me.

So I always felt uncomfortable telling someone I’d pray for them when something bad happened.    Even the idea of sending love was tough for me.  I’d say it or write it, but I wasn’t actually doing anything more than that.

When I’d try to actually send the love, I’d see the word “Love”, big letters  floating in space.  And if I pictured it reaching the person, it would stop in front of them as if there was a wall between the word and them.

It was  just a word.

About a year ago, I decided to come up with an image, so that when I told someone I was sending love  I could actually do it.  In my mind, I pictured a  pink quilt, one that I made years ago and use myself.  I pictured the  quilt with wings  hovering in a void.  In a moment, I could send it off to the person I wanted to give my love and comfort.  Then I see the quilt flying across the void and to  the person.  When it reaches them, the quilt gently lands on them wrapping itself around them in a big warm hug.

So I sit with the trees and send out beautiful, comforting images and energy in the form of my pink, winged quilt.  And recently I’ve gotten into doing a  LovingKindness  meditation at different times for different reasons.

These are simple words that I make sense to me.  They bring me comfort and let me put comfort out into the world at the same time.

I guess, in my own way,  I’m learning how to pray.


9 thoughts on “Praying With The Trees

  1. Thank you. This is post is a recipe for healing. I love the detail about how you connect with the trees. And I love the visual of a pink quilt wrapping love around people. Beautiful imagery and practical information on how to reconnect and heal.

  2. Maria, you are in touch w/ something so deep in trees and all that is in our environment. We are only just beginning to understand our natural world. As Indigenous cultures around the globe have always understood, all of nature is sacred and has energy or “power.” You might enjoy this gal’s work. She is a friend of my sister’s: Exploring How and Why Trees ‘Talk’ to Each Other

    This is interesting also: “Sleeping” Birch Trees Rest Their Branches at Night

  3. Hi Maria, Beautiful post! I too walk my dog every day and have favorite trees – especially now that I can see the bones of the trees through the last of the leaves, they seem omnipotent and magical to me. The reason I bought my house was because of the giant ash in the backyard that amazes everyone who sees it – it’s a hugger too! And ditto on the catholic upbringing; never got it at all, especially why “confessing” (what sins can a kid really have? I’d have to make them up!) to some old man who doesn’t even know me and would say to do “4 hail Mary’s” no matter what I said. I used to chuckle to my brother and sister that I’d say I’d killed someone and he wouldn’t even notice and still tell me to do 4 hail marys – well that was blasphemous to them but hilarious to me! Anyway, I hear you Maria – BTW that red quilt is GORGEOUS! 🙂

    1. I made up my sins too! Then I learned to just say I didn’t go to church or I fought with my sister and brother. I never knew what to say. And it was the trees in our yard that helped me know I wanted to live here. So I hear you too Katy.

  4. Your post brought back memories of going the summer to Joyce Hill in CT. At the end of the summer I would go back to NJ and have to go to confession saying we did not go to church the entire summer. Well one priest started lecturing me how he would walk many miles to get to church. I think I was about 15 and I said father it is not safe for a young girl to walk on a highway many miles to church. I said thank you, I was thinking of leaving the catholic church and you have convinced me to do it. I got up and walked out of the church and never went back. I do wish I could’ve seen the look on his face.

    1. I love that you stood up for yourself Audrey. It’s interesting that I had a similar experience. When the priest told me that I could have found a church to go to when my family was on vacation, the idea was so unimaginable to me. I think I just dismissed it.

  5. What a beautiful picture – really drew me in – they look like skyscrapers! And the first few paragraphs remind me of “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein – a wonderful children’s book that always makes me tear up.

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