Awake in the World

Trees. We rarely consider them, but without them we’d breathe at lot less easy! They give and give, even when we harm them. They give us oxygen, fruits and nuts. They provide shade to everyone. They open their limbs to birds, frogs and lizards. They never say, “I will give my shade only to those birds and creatures I like.” Or “My fruits are only for people who have a certain status and dress.” Even when we chop them down they offer us their wood for desks, furniture, pencils and homes. The sandalwood tree offers its fragrance even to the axe man.

The tree’s nature teaches us ways of wisdom. It has often been a symbol of spiritual life throughout many cultures. It’s not uncommon to see a tree at the center of a Muslim prayer rug or in an Islamic or Jewish sacred weaving. When the tree grows and thrives, it’s seen as representing the vibrant inner life of an individual and a culture. The notion of sacrifice and giving is at the heart of the tree’s teaching. Its nature is to give its harvest and shade equally to all and it teaches us of the power of treating all as one.

Sitting quietly in a grove of ancient oaks, in Southern France, I realized that the trees has seen the times of Napoleon and even farther into the past. They held a regal bearing and sheltered me from a rising storm blowing in from the Mediterranean. Often when I felt a desire for peace I would walk up the mountain side to find this hidden sacred grove. The trees were so powerful in their silence that they were as much a presence beside me as a human. It’s impossible to be lonely with trees as friends. They are always there for us, always willing to listen. Even though you may not want to hug trees, at least notice them for today. Pay attention and with a heart filled with gratitude, thank them for all that they give.

Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life. A visionary and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the globe and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. She has spent over fifteen years practicing meditation, working with dreams and doing spiritual practices. Visit her online at

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