My body holds a dozen prayers
who can grant them?
by listening and responding
of the forest.
This morning my dad showed up at my door unexpectedly and said he had an early birthday present for me. He said that because of what our family is going through with my grandma that he thought I might need it before my birthday. It was a string of what he called “woodspriestess beads” that he carved for me. There is one bead for each of the 17 species of trees that grow naturally in this part of Missouri as well as a series of beads made from trees that hold some kind of meaning or family connection for me. There is a bead from part of the wood in the house where I was born and one from the house I grew up in (log cabin built in the 1800’s). One from the tree we used to swing in when we were girls as well as one from an apple tree we planted together and a peach tree that grew from a discarded pit in the compost pile. One from a memorial tree we planted for my great-grandmother, and one from a maple tree my grandpa mailed to us from California and that is incredibly huge now (and my dad taps it for syrup in the spring). There’s one from my own homesite, one from the tree under which my third baby is buried, and one from the cedar tree that was the “topper” for the frame of our house. There is ash, Carolina buckthorn, cedar, cherry, dogwood, elm, hackberry, hickory, honey locust, mulberry, red oak, white oak, osage orange, persimmon, pine, plum, poplar, redbud, sassafras, and walnut. They’re a beautiful palette of meaning and a gift of love. A portable altar of the forest.
I was also touched by the acknowledgement and attention paid to my little woodspriestess experiment. Something that both my grandma and my parents have always been good at is paying attention to what I care about and am interested in and acting to demonstrate that they support it. For example, my grandma who never breastfed a baby and who actually originally seemed to think it was kind of an oddly primitive thing to do, snips out clippings of articles about breastfeeding and sends them to me and made sure to volunteer at the zoo table at a World Breastfeeding Week event just last year (the very same weekend I was working at one here, 2000 miles away). My mom subscribes to my blogs and crochets me Goddess of Willendorfs and fires my pottery goddesses and comes to my Rise Up classes. My dad sets up teepees for sagewomen ceremonies and doesn’t complain about late-night drumming and shows up for my solstice ritual every year and makes me woodspriestess beads. (And, when I was little he used to correctly ID what Care Bear was hiding under a hankie using only touch.) What a good life!
Yesterday when I was driving to class, I was so impressed by the loveliness of the landscape that I stopped in the road to take a picture. How lucky I am to live in this part of the country and how lucky I am that this is what I get to see on my way to work!
And, today my little baby’s memorial tree finally opened in full blossom!
4/22/2013—adding a couple of new picture of the beads with the final four species added.