I came across a valley in the bark of a tree recently and there wasn’t just one valley, there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of them crisscrossing the trunk of a magnificent oak tree which lives in a park in the middle of which is a lake and also a cemetery. I’m fond of cemeteries because they’re quiet (no pun intended) and peaceful as the inhabitants are also quiet and usually peaceful. Occasionally there will be a restless spirit wanting attention but by and large it’s an environment of being settled deep into the embrace of the Earth and contributing physical residue leftover from a life well lived into the nearby ecosystem.
This particular oak tree is a favorite with its eight trunk-limbs who seem to welcome me to sit down or lean up against them to gain the sustenance flowing from them to me and towards any other beings who happen to be in the area. On this morning walk of mine two snakes gifted me with their appearance sunning themselves on the warm cement path and gracefully, shyly moving to hide in the grass as I approached. Their movement reminded me of the valleys found in tree bark because those pathways of vascular cambium (the scientific term) are rarely symmetrical and seem to stop and start without care of what had been formed before. Yet the overall pattern just like the side to side opposite locomotion of the snakes decidedly allows ground to be gained and a tree to be grown in its search for sun and sky. The beginning of one section of tree bark doesn’t always line up neatly with the ending of the section next to it or with the section above and below. It’s rather like a puzzle that way – each piece magically fitting in to the whole so that a complete picture springs to life somewhat haphazardly during the process of creation.
And of course, where there are valleys there are usually peaks. The deeper the valley means the higher the peak and the tree bark didn’t disappoint with its depth and height of both which left me wondering if growing tree bark was painful. As a young girl I would sometimes have growing pains when my bones would be stretching and extending themselves inside my skin so wouldn’t it be the same way for the tree? Consider the beginning of a tree – a nut or a seed – that experiences the most creative destruction imaginable as it splits its own skin in order to send forth an extension above ground. The human species and other animal species don’t undergo that kind of self-annihilation at the very start of our lives on Earth as most all plant species do as they are birthed with an energy that must be off the charts in power alone.
As I ran my hands over the peaks and valleys of the tree bark I marveled at how deep the valleys were and how high the peaks were and at the intricacies of the patterns, colors and textures. Surely there has never been a masterpiece so created by a human that would rival the self-creation of tree bark or of any other design in Nature herself because she alone along with her consort of plant, animal or crystal continually astounds our species with her work and mutes any cry of pleasure we have upon experiencing the living art with open mouths of awe.
For some of you, like me, along with my deep admiration for the works of Nature such as tree bark there is also a shifting that occurs inside me when I come to the place of realization that my own physical design is the same priceless original. Not because it’s mine but because it is made of the same fabulously complex moving parts as the tree bark such as continuously renewable cells, an immune system to ward off invaders, and has an added electrical pump that beats 60 times a minute, 1440 minutes every day for 365 days a year sometimes for 90 or more years. Truth be told it boggles the mind how simply stunning our physical form is on this planet yet we moved away from it and in no small part ourselves when we turned over its health and well-being to others who look from the outside in. A channeled message I received recently stated it so much better: “The body is the connection between earthly experience and divine illumination.” Our forms just like the bark on a tree must be treated with deep respect so that we may be as the tree is in its whole existence – deeply rooted and sustaining for others while reaching for heights in a never-ending search for that illumination on Earth. It’s here – all the other beings know it to be so – and so it is for humans as well. Photo credit: Bark by Jacob Davies, resized.