The sun bellowed blistering words onto my back as I left from a day’s work. Exposed skin between the collar of my t-shirt and the start of my hair radiated heat from being victim to the constant tirade. The village of trees that would shade me from Ra was only a few minutes’ walk away. I was one of those people. You know, those who deliberately walk when the destination is close enough, and of course, I chose to live near where I work.
The entrance of the forest path embraced me with its shelter. The innumerable trees clustered close, and their tops billowed out large enough to blot out the sun. I felt in an entirely different climate, at least a twenty-degree difference. As if to underscore how different this place was, the wind rushed through the trees. It was brisk, and it placed a gentle hand on my tired-drooping face. It always felt like magic here.
When the sun is high I have to keep my head down because my eyes are so sensitive, because the trees blocked out the rays I was able to scan my surroundings. Before me was an oasis of life that was both extraordinary and completely normal. Squirrels scurried from tree to tree in search of fallen acorns, deer found groves to escape for the late afternoon, and crickets positioned themselves for the litany of chirps. The heel-toe crunch of my feet on the dirt path lulled me deeper into this magical realm.
Within this utopia of trees, I passed single dead one. Bark abandoned the trunk and branches, exposing a blackened interior that showcased only partially the deterioration happening within. I had passed this tree many times, but it was the first time I noticed it. I wondered what this tree must have done wrong in a place so perfect for it to have deserved death. I shook my head in pity as I passed it, but it drew me back with whatever life it had. I placed my hand onto the bare trunk and thanked it for having supplied shade and oxygen for myself and the walkers before me. I continued home.
The path winded behind two neighborhoods. On the last stretch of shade before it spit me out into my neighborhood, I stumbled onto a leaf. “You are perfect just the way you are,” it said. It didn’t actually say that but used my inner voice to vocalize. Caterpillars had eaten through parts of it, and the turn of fall began the process of turning robust green into yellow and brown. “You, just as I am, just as all things in existence, are imbued with the animating spirit of God.” I stared at it as I received the message. “Drudge as you might, struggle as you will, but you are doing just fine.” I watered the dry ground from what welled from my eyes. The wind blew making the leaf detach from the branch and fluttered in the wind. “Thank you,” I said at last.
Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/@burakkostak