Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the magnolia tree

  Yesterday's overwhelming outpouring of love and wisdom filled me with awe. My gratitude goes beyond words. The web of support that can be woven by women throughout the world has no bounds now that we can reach one another from our homes.We are all intimately connected. Your comments and tender thoughts are a tribute to our shared humanity. I am proud and blessed to have you as friends.

If you've been visiting with me for even a short time, you know how much I appreciate the turning of the seasons and the beauty of the countryside we live in. My relationship with the natural world has deepened over the last few months, and I have experienced a level of synchronicity that happens when our eyes are truly open.

When my grandmother was a young mother she planted a magnolia tree outside of her kitchen window. She watched it grow and change throughout the years as she washed the dishes and cooked for her family. When my in-laws wanted to give us a tree for our 5th wedding anniversary, I asked if we could pick out a magnolia. My grandparent's long and successful marriage was an inspiration. I hoped that planting a magnolia tree outside of our kitchen window would bring us the same happiness. My husband and I planted it with the help of our three year old son and watched it grow as the seasons changed.  I don't get to see my grandmother as often as I'd like to, but her spirit has stayed close by in the magnolia tree outside my kitchen window... she's always just a glance away.

 Each year our anniversary tree has blossomed on Earth Day. This year was different. The spring of 2012 was a strange and tumultuous one for me and for the Northeast. A mild March brought early blooms, and on the very day that my husband moved out, our tree was crowned in a riot of pink blossoms. I photographed them in wonder. Life was utterly surreal for my family, why not our tree? That night... our first night alone... the temperatures plummeted and a hard frost killed all of the new blossoms on the early Magnolias throughout our entire village. Limp, brown and wilted our tree seemed to be echoing my heart. Over the next month, as we learned how to find our footing, green life began to emerge from underneath the rotted magnolia flowers. On Earth Day, I marveled at how different our tree looked this year...and  at how broken I felt our family was. And on that night, as we slept, a freak snow storm piled 6 heavy wet inches on everything in site. Never had we had such a late snow... a snow day so close to May was unheard of. My children unpacked our snow clothes and we went out to investigate. I didn't see it first. My daughter did. "Is it dead?" The magnolia was flattened under piles. When the snow melted we discovered that our tree was most definitely alive, but the center trunk had split down the middle and each side had been sheered off in opposite directions. The center of the tree was gone and had been taken down a few inches, but it was still standing. I realized that even though I felt  ripped apart, my core was still in tact, and I would survive stronger then ever before. I was still standing just like our magnolia tree.

 At times of crisis our awareness is heightened as we search for meaning and understanding. Sometimes the deepest wisdom is revealed by remaining open to unexpected guides and signposts within nature. I found it right in front of me in the form a tree that mirrored my experience.
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45 comments:

  1. thinking of you and wishing you well. seems like you and the magnolia tree are in for some wonderful changes in your lives.

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  2. This is so beautiful. One day your tree will be more magnificent than you'll ever remember.

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    1. After what you shared yesterday, I'm so happy that you returned to hear my tree story. xxx

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  3. Keep your eyes on the tree. You will see her mend. She will send out new growth. She will survive to bloom. And like her, so will you, dear one.

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    1. I love being called dear one.thank you ellen.

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  4. Wow. That's all I can say right now.

    Wow.

    Thank you.

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  5. Thank you for sharing this and the rest of your story, both of which have brought tears to my eyes as I read. My own marriage ended several years ago, and though the circumstances were different, I relate keenly to your sense of the surreal that surrounds the experience. I hope you don't mind if I share a story about my own tree...

    We also have a magnolia in our yard, though it came with the house and did not originally have the symbolism yours carries. It did develop a divided trunk, however, and eventually, rot set in at that division and half of the magnificent tree fell without warning. Several tree experts advised me to cut down the remaining tree, saying that it would certainly die and fall. I chose against advice to keep the tree, making sure that its wound remained exposed to the light and the air in the belief that it would heal best that way.

    Ten years along, that tree still stands tall and firm. The scar where it split is still there, but to me that has become as much a part of its beauty as the creamy, lemon-scented blooms that tell me summer has come again.

    Wishing you strength and comfort on this leg of your life's journey.

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    1. I love this story, Bonnie!! Keeping the "wound exposed to the light and air"... always good medicine. thank you.

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  6. Oh my, hearing stories like this brings goosebumps to my skin. I feel that it, without a doubt, shows that we ARE part of nature. That every living thing IS connected. I have similar stories of my own that I replay in my head when I need to reassure myself of this. These aren't coincidences they are lessons right in front of our eyes if we allow ourselves to see them. Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm beginning to see that new growth on you already,
    xoxo
    ~ joey ~

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    1. Yes- every living thing IS connected, Joey. You are so right. xx

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  7. There are always signs along the way to connect you with the universe and all that is still waiting for you.... I am a true believer! A wonderful story that now has become apart of you. Thank you again. Keep looking...

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  8. Maya-It is so interesting how meaningful trees can be. My grandparents too had their own Magnolia and it is such a special tree to me because that tree and how it looked when it bloomed as well as how it reacted to early snows-is embedded in my deep memory banks. The tree is gone, along with their apple, peach, pear and mulberry tree but the memory of those tress will live on forever.
    My parents once lost 3 large trees to a late summer hurricane and my Dad told me it was such a loss that he likened it to when he lost one of his parents.
    I think some of the oldest wisdom comes from the nature around us and as others have written , connecting yourself to that never ending life force will help carry you through this moment . Wishing you the very best and thanking you for sharing something so very real . By doing so you are helping others in so many ways.

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    1. Beautifully said, Regina. It is that connection to the never ending life force that continues to support me. I love the words you have chosen.

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  9. Thank you so much my friend for sharing this & taking time to do so. I do believe in synchronicity with nature, and I wish with all my heart that you & the magnolia tree will grow even stronger, after the very tough moments you've both been through. Sending you all my love oxox

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    1. Of course, the woman that captures the tiniest detail of nature on film would understand and believe. love you sweet sonia!

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  10. I love that, Maya. I'm a total believer that the universe gives us signs, reassurances and messages when we so need them to help us all on our sometimes messy, always imperfect, still wondrous journey. I know a long with that Magnolia tree you will emerge so very empowered and free. ♥
    ~ Cara

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  11. Oh goodness. This gave me goosebumps. And I remember you posting and tweeting about the tree blooming early and the snowstorm and all of it.

    And your post from yesterday will stay with me for a long, long time, Maya.
    xo

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    1. I wondered if anyone would remember... of course it was you, Amy! Can't wait to see you next week.

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  12. You've brought tears to my eyes yet again! I have no doubt that both you and the Magnolia tree have many years left of beautiful blooming to do. Sending love your way.
    ~Cinnamon

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  13. I love magnolias! Their huge blooming flowers are a rare site in my city!But I appreciate them wherever I see them.
    Thank you for sharing your personal family story with us yesterday. I wish you to be strong and keep in mind that everything happens for a reason. You may not know why this has happened to you now but through it better things will come.AriadnefromGreece!

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    1. So nice to hear from you again Ariadne! I was taught to trust that there was a reason for everything, even if you can't see it in the moment. Thank you for that reminder.

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  14. This is an amazing story. I read recently that when you're stripped of everything you are used to, you find more of who you are. I thought it was such a painfully beautiful truth to read. Also, have you read Susannah Conway's book? {This I Know} It's beautiful. Poignant, soulful.

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    1. It just arrived in my mail box! Good timing, no?

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    2. Amazing timing! Will you cross paths with Susannah at Squam? I've taken several online courses from her... she's a lovely woman. Best of wishes to you...

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  15. Such a beautiful story, Maya. It's making me more teary than your post from yesterday.

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    1. Oh Jan, not my intention keep you in tears. But thank you for being here for all of these years.xx

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  16. Oh what an amazing story. What a special tree.

    I'm realising more and more that there's so much potential for two-way dialogue between us humans and nature. As much as we feel and are touched by nature, nature feels and is touched by us. Good, bad, painful, joyful... How beautiful that you and your magnolia tree friend can re-grow together from the unbroken core that is inside both of you.

    You are a true inspiration, Maya. Thank you for being willing to be so open-hearted in your sharing with us.
    Lucy x

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  17. It's amazing how things around us can perfectly reflect what is happening to us and within us. Goes to show, God is watching.

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  18. Oh Maya, I feel horribly bad to have been away from this lovely space of yours and to know you have been going through so much pain. I am truly sorry to hear what has happened. But like that magnolia tree that one day will blossom, your life will also bring new blossoms your way, you are a strong woman, a pillar. Thank you...thank you for sharing such a personal story...I know it must have not been easy. Know that you and your sweet little angels are in my prayers.

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  19. That is absolutely amazing and beautiful. I am not surprised that the tree survived and that you will too. Your connection to the world around you is astounding. Take care.

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  20. Such a lovely and amazing story!!! :))

    xx
    Grace

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  21. Life is so incredible in that way. As long as we are open to truly seeing answers are right in front of our eyes. This story was really beautiful and so well described. I followed along perfectly imagining all the changing scenes.

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  22. i think the magnolia tree is the garden equivalent of the wise willow tree. My tree looked so full of early life and promise in the early spring. I was almost certain it would bloom for my birthday in April but it was hit by nights of very deep frost and then all the early buds turned brown and fell off the tree to be eaten by the squirrels. Just after mother's day as the leaves were making their fresh green appearance I noticed a tiny flash of pink at the very top of the tree. Their was one lone bloom in a sea of stained glass green. I think that one bloomed for lilith. It is her favourite spot to be under on the hammock under the green canopy.
    xo
    m

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  23. Maya, thank you so much for your honesty and beautiful writing full of insights. Amazing that in the midst of all the pain you must be carrying you still find beauty to share with others.

    Sending love and healing...

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  24. Oh my, what a beautiful affirmation of the strength of our world and ourselves

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  25. It is amazing how Nature mirrors life. After my uncle passed away, a huge tree branch in my grandparent's backyard fell. We all ran outside when we heard the noise. A neighbor across the street walked over. This neighbor and my grandparents had been estranged for years because of a motorcycle accident my deceased uncle and the neighbor's daughter had been in. They all talked for the first time in two decades. It was as though my uncle was telling them through that tree to find peace.

    Peace to you beautiful lady. You are an inspiration and a treasure.

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  26. Oh Maya, I am sending you and your children hugs.

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  27. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life. I hope that you will feel the love of family and friends (and blog friends too), as you go through this journey.

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  28. I have no words right now, just tears in my eyes. Wishing you well.

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  30. That was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Tears came to my eyes, too. The tree as the metaphor for your life seems so fitting. You are very courageous to be so open about your struggles. It makes one realize that we all have challenges and that one never knows what another person may be dealing with. You continue to inspire those who read your words. Please know that we are all cheering you on.

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  31. Yesterday, I noticed your book in my local library. I thought of you and your blog and decided to "stop in." I'm so sorry to hear of the recent struggles for you and your family and I can very much relate. I went through a sudden, painful separation and divorce 4 yrs ago and writing about it on my blog helped. There are many supportive people out there in the world. I, too, found solace in nature, as well. I am thinking of you and sending you my support--- I am sure you will make it through this and be stronger because of it. That does not take away the pain, however. Take care--- xoxo

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  32. Your story is incredible and full of wisdom.

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