Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A mighty tree and her lessons: a book review

I have just completed reading Julia Butterfly Hill's The Legacy of Luna in which she tells her story of living in Luna, a mighty redwood, for two years as she struggled to save the California redwoods.

I have been thinking a lot lately about place and home, about traveling and returning, about holding on to intentions and about letting go. Butterfly writes that she wanted to go around the world, and yet, instead she found a tree to climb. A tree to live for. A tree to live in. A world to make a difference. Butterfly finds herself in the least expected place, a tree.

Isn't that so true? We find our true selves in the least expected places. We think we might find the real self when we travel a great distance, perhaps visiting a sacred spot, and yet, we don't have to travel too far to find the right desire to grow into who we really are. The real path to the self begins internally.

I have the luxury of having traveled to many interesting places around the world, but I have to say that home continues to be the place where I find me, the real me. I must confess, I think I must have resisted this for a while, but now I see the wisdom in starting the journey where I am, here and now.

All those places I have visited were vital to my spiritual growth, but the main thing I learned was that humans share common needs: we all want a warm, dry home, we all want to be loved and to love, and we all want to seek truth. So, perhaps in a way it is not about finding a place but finding the right intention.

Julia Butterfly shares this prayer: "When I pray, I ask for guidance in my life to be the best person I can be, to learn what I need to learn, and to grow from what I learn. Always when I pray, I ask to let go. Letting go is the hardest part."

The practice of letting go is universally challenging. Letting go. Non-attachment. Try practicing it daily as Elizabeth Bishop writes in her poem, One Art. "So much seem to be filled with the intent to be lost, that their loss is not a disaster." I have a hard time not seeing loss as a disaster. Start with lost door keys. A favorite book. A sweater. Then maybe places. People. A loved one.

Bishop further suggests "try loosing something everyday, loosing farther, loosing faster." Let go of expections. Let go of dreams. Let go of holding on. Let go of the prayer. Allow Mystery and Magic and Beauty to enter and then we will hear the Universe calling us with a wisdom that awakens.

Butterfly shares this wisdom of Luna after a storm:

The trees in the storm don't try to stand up straight and tall and erect. They allow themselves to bend and be blown with the wind. They understand the power of letting go...Those trees and branches that try too hard to stand up strong and straight are the ones that break...Learn from the power of the trees. Let it flow. Let it go. That is the way to make it through the storms of life.

...Once the storm ended I realized that by letting go of all attachments, including my attachment to self, people no longer had any power over me...I was no longer going to live my life out of fear, the way too many people do, jolted by our disconnected society. I was going to live my life guided from the higher source, the Creation source.

In my daily yoga practice, I sometimes turn to Judith Hanson Lasater's A Year of Living Your Yoga for a daily thought. Today's thought, "if you think you like a yoga pose, hold it for five minutes." The tree pose has been on my mind lately. Maybe it is Luna. Maybe it is that I finally caught sight of an old beauty while visiting my childhood home: an Ohioan sugar maple, bright red in the October sunshine.

Trees matter to me. I guess that is why I love Julia Butterfly Hill's The Legacy of Luna. It is a story about the human spirit. It is a story about a tree. And yet, it is a story about you and about me.

Stand like a tree. And when the storms come, move with the wind. Let go but stand strong.

I stand with the trees (and with Butterfly) in service of life in love, Nicki

Photo: Julia Butterfly Hill in Luna, 13 November 1998, Shaun Walker.


  1. Beautiful post. Trees and nature have lessons to teach – we have to open our hearts to listen. I have traveled and lived in different parts of the world, finding home to be in each… because I carry home with me. Each place; each “home” has allowed me to find a different part of me.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Each place facilitates a new awareness, a new finding of the self. I had not thought of this before. Almost like each age ushers in a new season of life. There is so much to learn about home, about the self. Thank you for your insight. Peace and light, Nicki

  3. I've often been amazed at the graciousness of trees, how they bow as we all pass them by though we often ignore them. They don't ask for anything. Yet if we watch them closely, they teach us about yielding to certain storms and standing strong in others. We come back to our roots only to find that the physical attachment was not what kept us grounded, but the need to be free.

    Thank you Nicki for sharing your poetic insights. I have heard so much about Julia Butterfly Hill. I know I will read her one day.

  4. "I see the wisdom in starting the journey where I am, here and now." Oh Nicki this is such a powerful post!!! Tomorrow on my blog I will be featuring one of my teachers (a yoga teacher) and friend in a guest post...she wrote a poem inspired by a tree!!! I hope you will stop by to read Myriam's post. Now I must look for this book about Luna at Amazon (ironic, right??) Thanks so much for your inspiration this evening.

    indeed the journey begins and ends HERE in this moment deep within our own selves...always!

    I hope too you will send me a comment for my gratitude quilt....directions are at the top of my blog:)

  5. I loved this book, Nikki. Yes, may we stand strong like a tree, yet flexible enough to gracefully weather the storms...Blessings!

  6. This is a wonderful post Nicki, so beautifully written. Trees are so strong and so powerful, reaching to the sky yet rooted deep in the ground, in the soil - in Mother Earth. I will have to read this book as I know trees have something to show us if we'd only stop to listen.