“When The Leaves Fall”
(From The Gardener by Grian)
‘Gardener,’ called the girl from the garden fence.
‘Why do some trees lose their leaves in winter, while others protect themselves from the cold with the summer leaves?’
‘Why do you wash your face each morning in the Looking Glass Spring?’
‘Why do you arrange your ribbon before the mirror each day when the sun shines through the window?’
The gardener fell silent while the girl observed him with an innocent look of surprise.
‘The water with which you wash your face in the morning is different each day,’ the gardener continued.
‘I don’t understand, sir.’
The gardener went over to the fence and, pointing to the trees in the garden, said to the girl:
‘There is not a tree that doesn’t lose its leaves. Some strip their yawning branches each autumn. Others drop their leaves little by little all through the year, while new leaves come out and take the place of the old ones. That’s why it seems to you that they don’t lose their green attire.’
‘Wouldn’t it be easier to always have the same leaves without having to change them each time?’ asked the girl, while looking at the oak tree nearby.
Doesn’t your mother make you new dresses each spring so that you will look more beautiful and you can stop wearing old ones?’
‘Yes,’ answered the girl, looking him in the eyes.
‘And when a dress becomes old, what does your mother do with it?’
‘She makes it into rags or scraps to make the bedspreads for my bed.’
‘Well, think about it. The trees make a quilt around themselves with the old leaves from the trees, that will nourish the ground from where they will later take their substance and that gives life to other plants and animals.’
An expression of happy astonishment came upon the girl’s face.
‘The trees know a lot, gardener!’
The innocence of the girl’s eyes sent a rush of energy up and down his back.
‘Be, then, wise like the trees and when life asks you to drop the old leaves from your mind and heart, have no doubts. That way your soul can have a new dress available each spring.”
Autumn is my favourite time of the year. In the Denmark parks and at my new Mt Shadforth home to be, ‘Tree Song’, I walk with my two little dogs and I see the trees shedding – their leaves, their skins, the bark that once protected and looked so much the character of those trees, now discarded on the earth so that new life can be grown. This is a perennial message. This is how nature literally opens to new life by letting go of old ways so that it can continue to stretch beyond its known limits. Human beings are exactly the same. They say that every 7 years all of our cells, namely the matter of our bodies, totally changes. We become all new cells. We are literally not the same person. Can you imagine if as a tree, we kept all of the same bark or leaves? Our tree would collapse. Our tree would be so constricted that it wouldn’t grow. It would perhaps be strangled or die from internal pressure, stress, excess weight and more. Human beings are no different.
I remember over twenty years ago when I was working in psychiatry and was in a psychotherapeutic relationship with a woman in her mid thirties and who weighed 22 stone (I will call her Linda). We spent our sessions talking through the many emotions Linda had stored within – anger, hate, resentment, guilt, fear, sadness – much of which was related to her early family experiences. In our times together Linda would recognise where much of her depression and dis-ease had come from and in a space of trust and safety, she began to gradually release those stored up feelings of old. Those out-dated feelings no longer served her in everyday life and were not even related to her current experiences of life. Linda was tired of being unwell and she wanted new life. So over our 6 months together Linda began to shed the anger and grief about her life and eventually found a place of forgiveness within herself and for her family. At the end of that time Linda weighed 16 stone. The weight naturally came off and without any diets. Linda had let go of those feelings, thoughts and emotions that were unhelpful for her new and growing beliefs about her self, her self-esteem and her future life. The old bark came off, she felt freer, and was able to open to new creative possibilities of growth. Linda’s depression went and over time she shed dis-ease and discovered her inner wellness.
Within each one of us we have a unique and potent immune system. This powerful messenger and friend within has the capacity to heal us our everyday colds, our lifestyle diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Our emotions, thoughts and feelings are triggers that stimulate the immune system to do its job. Like the tree, if our emotions and thoughts are all clogged up, depressed, the bark rigid and unchanging, holding on to old ways and times, we lose our potency for healing and rejuvenation. Our ability to fight disease or chronic stress comes from a strong immune system. Our immune system needs the emotional energy, focussed information and charge of vitality and potency. To achieve this, especially at a cellular level, we need to invite into our lives new creative energy and positive expressions of life. We also need to let go of those restrictions and repressions of thinking, feeling and habits that hold us back or down. We need to stretch beyond and be challenged to continue to grow. We need to continually feed well our vital life force. We are what we believe, feel and think. We are what we imagine our lives to be. We can grow ‘Wellness’ no matter what has happened in our lives, and where we are in life’s stages and transitions – becoming that Tree of new and enduring life that we truly are.
I have come to live in Denmark after 30 years in the Wellness field, and in particular over the last four and a half years as the Wellness Facilitator and Coordinator at the Cancer Support Association of WA Inc., Perth’s holistic and wellness Centre of over 20 years’ service to the community. There I have had the deepest privilege of being with so many teachers of great Heart, Courage and Spirit. I have witnessed people living well in spite of the odds, dying well, grieving well, and growing beyond the limitations and reality of cancer and other lifestyle diseases. These are the insights and learnings that I hope to share with the Denmark and SW communities through my passion for Wellness and Healing through Growth Groups, workshops, individual Wellness Facilitation sessions, Spiritual Mentoring, and working with the many helpers (from health, wellness, corporate, environmental and community fields) in ‘helping them to help’! I look forward to Being with you in many Wellness Ways and sharing in this very special and precious Denmark community.
I will conclude this ‘hello’ with a wellness invitation from Lance Armstrong, five times winner of the Tour de France Cycle Race and Cancer Survivor from his International Bestseller “It’s Not About The Bike”:
“I say that given a choice between cancer and winning the Tour de France, I’d choose the cancer. What I mean is that I wouldn’t have learnt all I did if I hadn’t had to contend with the cancer…After the cancer I needed a different emotional fuel, too, something different from anger. Cancer forced me to develop a plan for living, and that, in turn, taught me how to develop a plan for smaller goals like each stage of the Tour. It also taught me how to cope with losing. It taught me that sometimes the experience of losing things, whether health or a home or an old sense of self, has its own value in the scheme of things…the biggest thing cancer did was to knock down a wall in me.”