Reflections from a (certified) nature nut

Last week I received my official "Certification" as a Forest Therapy Guide from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. In celebration, it seems fitting to share one of the most profound experiences from the course.

When beginning the guide training, the instructors suggested that this would become a "transformative" experience. Of this, I was skeptical. However, during the 4th month of the training, I reflected on an encounter that made me feel as if this might actually be the case.

For a "Sit Spot", or essentially outdoor meditation assignment, I sat with a pine tree in my backyard, who had become a constant friend over the past months. The invitation for this sit spot was to mindfully ask "what the imaginal natural world might reveal to us about ourselves". I considered this and silently asked the tree what I might receive during the session. After a while it occurred to me, watching her (as I perceived the tree), that she is a mother to many living beings. I watched birds flying in and out of her branches. She seemed alive with movement, brimming with spring, and joyous to be constantly hosting and housing many creatures. She gives in a similar way a mother gives, I thought. Providing shelter, protection, comfort, and food with her physical self. She provides branches and structure for birds nests, which she holds above the ground. She mothers the baby birds until they are strong enough to fly south and then keeps a home for them to return to the following Spring. How is she different from a mother who physically carries a baby, provides food, warmth, shelter, and protection I wondered? The answer that came was simple - she isn't.