There is nothing as beautiful as a tree against the backdrop of a sunny, intensely blue sky. Its leaves seem dipped in glittering, volatile mercury; their edges brushed with liquid gold. The green in them seems full to the brim with irrepressible joie de vivre. They rustle joyfully in the lightest breeze as if they were absolutely thrilled to be abroad.
To see the same tree etched against an inky blueness is to make the contrast stand out even more starkly. The silver rays of the moon bathe the leaves, setting them iridescent, shadowy and mysterious. The green of them is thick—like dense pigment applied delicately with a palette knife.
But whether electric blue or deeply inky, trees look magical against the sky. Especially when you stand under them and look up into the spread of their generous branches.
Trees are like guardians—sentinels if you will. They stand detached and dignified; singly or in groups. Though their feet are buried in the soil, they seem aloof from the world. Their heads are a long way above tiny men and their petty lives. They seem to be looking off into the distance, at a vision of their own. I wonder what that vision is. To judge from their concentration, it must be riveting.
For all living beings, trees must be the most beloved species of the Divine. They stay put where they are planted. Without arguing with Him, they conduct their life exactly as He decided they should. No matter how adverse the circumstances, they don’t whine but do the best they can.
They don’t question Him and grumble because they were flung to an arid rock-face and expected to take root in that hostile environment. They take root and wrap their gossamer arms around the rock, clinging to it lovingly. They give to everyone—without question. They make the earth a beautiful, verdant haven where all other forms of life can flourish only because they made it possible. The only life form conscious of their service is humankind. But not all humans know it either.
Better pens than mine have eloquently described the service trees provide and our ungrateful, cavalier attitude towards them. While I more than agree with all they say, my fondness for trees is for their value which goes beyond mere utility.
Clouds at noon occupying about half the sky gave half an hour of heavy rain to wash one of the cleanest landscapes in the world. How well it is washed! How fresh the woods are and calm after the last films of clouds have been wiped from the sky! A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fibre thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.
An agile gazelle, stepping daintily through the early morning mist looking for sustenance, is not beautiful only because its slain body might take care of your hunger for a few days. She is lovely in herself. The pleasure one experiences when watching her has nothing to do with what practical use she might be to one. That’s the thing with all that is beautiful in this world. The contemplation of beauty expands your very consciousness until you feel as if you were a vessel that contains the entire universe. That expansion is the touch of Divinity upon your forehead. Is it any wonder that you would seek that touch by seeking beauty?
Humans are capable of losing themselves in the consideration of beauty. A moment of beauty can hold us enthralled. It makes time stand still for us—and more. You feel as if that the moment is a bubble in which you are enclosed. Though the bubble is not moving forward, it is expanding at a breath-taking rate. With it, your perception is expanding too. You feel as if the whole universe had been offered to you inside that bubble. As long as you consent to remain committed to that moment, you may study the universe and take delight in it.
Why are there trees I never walk under
But large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
When I look at lofty, ancient trees, I am captivated by their grandeur, beauty, dignity and grace. They are seers who have already untangled all knotty skeins that have ever been born in the universe. Now they stand in their meditative silence, immersed in the vast nothingness that defines the Divine.
Just as village elders are indulgent towards the thoughtless, frolicking children of their village, so are trees indulgent towards us. They are ready to soothe and nurture all those who would sit with them for a while. You could lay your head down in their lap and they would calm your worries away.
They are conduits which gather the wisdom of the universe and would willingly transmit it to you. If you listen to them, you will find that they have messages for you, from the cosmos; messages you would do well to pay heed to. However, if you chose to run around like a knotless thread, they would let you do it without thwarting you in your silliness.
Trees are poems; the sweetest songs the universe sings!