The River and the Tree

I approach The River reverently, after an absence of 4 days and after a night of prayers and sorrow deep into the night.

There is still frost on the ground and bench.

I do not see the tree at first.

The tree at the right side of the bench - is so young. I have imagined it growing up and providing ample shade in the years to come. Though it did seem like it had been planted too close to the bench.

But the tree is not there.

I look at the ground and notice it is lying there - snapped off nearly at the base. I don't know if the strong winds that prevailed for days did it - or whether if was actually broken by something or someone. It doesn't matter anyway.

I walk over to it and bend down, and start saying over and over again like a mantra, as I gently touch its trunk - "I am sorry, I am sorry!"

My own grief for so many things this year mingles with what I imagine to be the grief of the tree - for its own unfulfilled dreams and potential. My tears run freely.

I think of the fragility of life. I think of other baby trees gifted to me in the last year that did not survive. Was that an omen presaging things to come?

I think of the impermanence of life.

I think of the natural order of things. Some things die. Others are given birth to. It is in so many ways what the changing seasons are a reminder of.

There is a season for growing and one for harvesting.

And there are times for slashing and burning - for releasing and clearing. And for fertilizing.

I ask the tree if I can take a little piece of its branch. There are buds on it that will never bloom.

I bring it home for my meditation altar as a remembrance of the mystery of life.

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