Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Naming of Trees

Recently I sat on the deck under moonlight naming trees all around me. Aloud I called out "Oak, Maple, Apple, Elm, Cedar, Pine, Birch, Dogwood, Walnut." I named trees because trees love to be named.

Earlier in the day I had gone to the Frist Art Museum to the curator's talk for "To Live Forever" the new exhibit of Egyptian artifacts from the Brooklyn Museum. I was fascinated to hear the importance Egyptians placed on remembering a person's name especially after their death. I pondered how many Americans do just the opposite. Someone dies and we avoid the saying of their name for fear it will upset someone if not be upsetting to oneself. The importance of names and naming I suspect is what got me to naming the trees later that night.

I named the trees around me and wondered what happens when we stop naming things? Do species begin to fade, do they forget who and what they are because they need the interface with us, the relationship experienced through our naming them? Do things actually become extinct because we stop appreciating them?

I recall thinking something similar when my grandmother was in a nursing home years and years ago. We called her Granny. The staff called her Mrs. Young. Her name was Sarah. Sarah. Sarah. Sarah.

I wondered then if dementia occurred because our elders slowly begin to fade as they stop hearing their names. When their parents, peers and spouses pass, who's left to call them by their name. We say it's a sign of respect to use Mrs. or Mr. yet do we really respect our elders? If we did, wouldn't we sit and listen to their stories, ask them questions, desire their wisdom?

I named aloud the trees and thought in this Tree-and-Me relationship as I honor them they in turn share their lessons and energy. Ours is a love relationship which reminded me of how partners forget to name one another and the distance that ensues. How often do I think I know my partner of twenty years when in truth I suspect I've only begun to know him.

I named aloud the trees and thought of folks who act in ways that wound. Do they forget their goodness because those who know them forget to name and call out their love, their light? Slowly separated from who they came here to be, do they become something other?

I named aloud the trees and considered how ceasing to name is sign of being disengaged and disconnected. I get busy, focused on things I must do and forget the things before me. There's another layer though stirring here, something related to intimacy. If I let myself not just say the word, but actually feel the experience of my relationship to what I'm naming then I am open to a fuller engagement and relationship. I am vulnerable to feel the loss of a love, the cutting of a tree, the breaking of my heart yet I carry with me the experience we have shared and I carry more of me.

In naming aloud we remember and re-member. We bring back into ourselves aspects ignored and forgotten. We remember more of who we fully are. An honoring occurs when naming is done with deep consciousness. We honor the person or entity being named and we are honored. Life doesn't get more holy than this for me.

I named aloud the trees and now realize the trees allowed me to share in the sacred, the gift of keeping things alive through sound, experience and name. This is a shift I want to embody and embrace.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse 12 October 2011

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I also love to call Tree People by their names, but often I give them their own sacred name. In the forest where I live is an ancient fir tree I call "Teacher Tree" because it is wise, and I love to stand with my backagainst its trunk, and just listen. Another old Redwood stump, hollowed out in the middle, I call "The Container" because it accepts and transmutes all those "things" I don't want to hold onto any longer. Thanks for your posts, Dawn. Here's to talking to trees!!!!