My childhood home had a pair of beautiful sugar maples in the side yard. When I became old enough to climb trees, my father hung a rope ladder from one of them; this gave me easy access to the interior haven of its branches.
As a young girl, I played here often. I claimed a special spot - my legs perfectly straddling a hefty limb, my back resting against the trunk. I called this my comfy seat. In the summer, I was abundantly camouflaged in a sea of green; in fall, I sat in a swirl of crispy color; and when weather turned cold and branches dropped their leaves, I sat exposed, the rush of cool wind rustling the bare maple limbs around me.
Over a number of years, I developed a deep connection with my comfy seat and when life was difficult, I sought refuge here to reconnect with a more pure sense of self, to be reminded of simplicity and ease.
Eventually, my family moved from that home. In times of need, I would imagine myself climbing that rope ladder, swinging my leg across the rough bark and leaning into the comfort I knew was always available to me. Several years ago, I visited my childhood home. I walked to the side yard to greet my maple friend and noticed she still wore a ring of chain around the branch that had held our rope ladder. I was surprised and pleased to know she held this visible way of connecting closely with her.
It’s important for us to have touchstones - places or experiences that assist us in finding our center and knowing inner peace. I've developed additional touchstones along my journey - sitting in ceremony with sisters who see and know me in my truest sense, the still silence of morning meditation, the warming hugs of those who love me most, the feel of wind on my face, grass beneath my bare feet and the song of owls at night. Envisioning these experiences ground me and help me remember who I am.
Last week, I excitedly took my first weight-bearing steps in 2.5 years. The next day, I was told my body wasn’t ready to walk and I was going to have to start out in the kindergarten of physical therapy. I cried tears of grief that day. Then I closed my eyes and climbed into my comfy seat. The maple branches were bare, the wind chilly, but I snuggled up against that hearty trunk and knew all was well. I hold deep gratitude for our ability to vision, to feel and to connect with those touchstones that provide support and strength in our times of need. A special thanks to my beloved sugar maple.