Based on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, Sparkles and Dirt is a blog by Louise Brunet. Her posts explore the beauty and the struggles we all encounter and how we can, just maybe, show up for all of it with compassion and grace.

The Old Professor

The Old Professor

Let us tread lightly on this beautiful earth,

in step with its sacred rhythm.

Let us awaken to see the astonishing beauty all around us and within us.

Let us soften our grip to allow the beauty to come in.

Sweet Chestnut in Greenwich Park, photo credit G. Solomon

Sweet Chestnut in Greenwich Park, photo credit G. Solomon

I recently had the opportunity to visit some 400 year-old Sweet Chestnut trees in Greenwich Park in London. The park is a beautiful place, one of the Royal Parks with plenty of royal history. The park is also the location of 0° Longitude. The Prime Meridian that divides east from west on the planet and provides the marker for Greenwich Mean Time, which makes it a destination for people from far and wide.

The big old Chestnuts are strikingly beautiful, with impressive corkscrewed trunks, gnarled branches that reach out a good distance in all directions and thick shiny dark green leaves. They remind me of storybook characters. They're truly delightful.

I walked through a grove of Chestnuts on a hillside in the massive park, feeling suddenly overcome with a deep sense of time gone by. I became aware of time passing over hundreds of years, as if I could actually see time. This kind of thing happens to me sometimes, where I pick up on an energy around me. I  like to think of it as being hijacked because it often results in an intense experience while I'm doing something else entirely and minding my own business. And while I visited the park that day because of these old trees, I did not expect what came next.

One big tree in particular drew my attention; when I placed my hands on its massive twisted trunk and tuned-in, I felt an old, wise welcoming energy. I took slow deep breaths while simply enjoying this energy for awhile.

Chestnut in Greenwhich Park, London, photo L. Brunet

Chestnut in Greenwhich Park, London, photo L. Brunet

Then I heard a calm, low voice, like an old professor. This tree, planted in the 1600’s, showed me images of people over the years: couples walking hand in hand, families enjoying a picnic, people walking by the tree or sitting nearby, children laughing and running around. People coming and going as time passed. I saw these scenes over and over throughout the years of the tree's lifetime and then I heard –

"Blink... (and again) Blink"

I had no idea what that meant. I looked up at the tree's branches and leaves and asked "What's blink?"

He told me –

“Blink. You are a blink. Humans are a blink. People come and go over time, but the planet goes on. The planet continues. Your life is a blink (so) pay attention.”

The feeling I received when he said “the planet goes on” was partly the actual planet but also the entirety of sacred life energy. He was referring to the totality of life itself.

This wise old tree told me that people get caught up in so many things that don’t matter and that –

“You believe you have time.”

We busy ourselves in pursuits that mean nothing and get us nowhere. I saw the same couples and families and all kinds of things that people do and focus on fading away, becoming a thin transparent film, and then disappearing into dust. I felt entire lifetimes come and go …gone so quickly as the tree stood by as a witness.

This generous soul was cautioning me to pay attention to what matters. Pay attention, pay attention, pay attention.

Greenwich Park, London, photo L. Brunet

Greenwich Park, London, photo L. Brunet

There was so much life energy in the tree that I could feel his reach extending out and around the entire planet at once. Not just the park or even the UK, but right around the world, in an instant. The trees often show me how they are all connected around the world. I think they keep showing me this because it’s so easy to forget. Its also difficult for us to grasp the vastness of consciousness the trees  possess.

The old professor told me he knew I had come from far away and I would not be in the park for long, so he was telling me things straight up. Which made me laugh out loud and offer my deep gratitude to him at the same time. He felt like an old friend.

What does matter according to the trees?

The Sequoias in California had a lot to say about this when I visited them 2 years ago. These Chestnuts didn’t go into detail. They were leading me to do some reflecting and noticing. I'll share the Sequoia story with you in another post.

The elevator pitch is this – Love unconditionally. With our actions and words, allow others to thrive; rise up; inspire others and ourselves to shine brightly.

Nature is always calling to us. Trees, rocks, mountains, the ocean, lakes, rivers, plants, the sky, the wind – all of it. All of these beings call to us all the time, like a radio station broadcasting day and night.

It’s up to us to tune-in, to pay attention because we can learn so much from them. And because life is too short and too precious not to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit G. Solomon

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