How to Be Still and Keep Moving

“It’s the greening of the leaves that really gets to me.”

Ada Limón

My daily dose of excitement for the past month has come from waking up every morning to the tree outside my window.

Just a few weeks ago, its knobby branches were covered only in grey buds.  I wondered whether and when they would flower, what they might become.  Then, slowly, one-by-one, they started to open up—revealing a few tufts of white, then cloudfulls.  Now, I watch as the white turns to green.  Some flowers cling on, bursting.  Others quietly give way.  All move in constant transformation. 

The tree has spent the whole of its existence in one place, its trunk planted in the four walls of the garden.  But its roots have explored deep underground, have met resistance against long-buried rocks, only to grow around and between them.  The nourishment they have found there has sustained another kind of growth—upward and outward toward the sky.  Yet every year the tree’s progress has ended with loss, winter’s grip wresting the life from last spring’s precious growth.  Only to begin again—not the same, never the same, but still beginning.  Still reaching daily toward the sun, moving with the shifting winds, creating and sustaining, inching toward another cycle closer to the end of numbered cycles. 

What adventures the tree has had!  And sorrows, and joys. 

Looking at the tree during this time, I’ve cried; I’ve sat in uncertainty and frustration and self-doubt; I’ve laughed (over the phone) with friends and loved ones; I’ve read and written and learned; I’ve prayed for this time to end and prayed for it never to end.  I’ve hardly left the four walls of this room, but how much I too have changed.

What a reminder that there’s no such thing as silence.  We may feel like we’re standing still, like we’re stuck.  But if we look closer, we can see that we are growing.  We are living, even if life is nothing like it has ever been or we have ever imagined it would be.  And each moment contains within it the possibility of experiencing any aspect of this unimaginably nuanced existence.  Each moment holds fear, uncertainty, beauty, and promise. 

Each moment will fade into the next, and none of us will ever be the same again.

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