Two weeks ago, I planted three wispy, little moringa trees. Each was two feet tall, an eight of an inch thick, and adorned with a few small leaves. The twiggy branch emerging from the tiny plastic pot of soil looked pathetic. I was hopeful, but not expectant.
I took a shovel to the dense ground and filled the pit with rich soil. I handled each young tree with care to avoid shocking the root system as I transplanted them into to their new homes.
Nature is always in motion, following some ingrained universal wisdom. Nature teaches us endless patience and continual progress simultaneously.
After a few days, the plants looked increasingly more miserable. Was there too much sun exposure? Not enough water? Did that minute or two of initial root exposure put the plant into shock? I debated uprooting the plants and starting over.
Radiolab once released an episode about the inexplicable wisdom of trees. Research has shown the roots are drawn toward nearby water sources, including rivers, ponds, and plumbing pipes. More surprising, roots grow towards the recorded sound of flowing water. How can trees “hear” without ears? How can they so effortlessly assess their environment?
I choose to trust that the trees would tap into whatever it was they needed to bring themselves back to life. I provided extra water, extra fertilizer and words of encouragement. Then, I waited.
Several days later one tree was thriving, proudly donning a full crown of bright green foliage. The other two appeared to have died. Once more, I considered ripping the small, browning twigs from the ground. I wondered if, perhaps, they were still acclimating to the new space. So, I waited.
The next day, as if by some miracle, several small buds burst out from the lower half of the small trees, as if a “thank you” and a “please.” I took pruning shears to the dead half of the tree, just above the highest burst of new life. At the measly height of twelve inches, the little trees were quite evidently still intent on living.
I once read about the Broccoli Tree, a Swedish tree that became a tourist sensation. A man took regular pictures of the tree, a passive protagonist watching as the world would unfold around it. I find it incredible that nature is filled with such instances of intense beauty, yet it often takes a social media account to bring attention to nature’s elegance.
I read recently that the tree was vandalized and had to be completely cut down, and few ugly stumps left protruding from the earth. Yet, the stump was cut in such a way that new spouts might form. An instance of hope, and an invitation to practice patience.
Since noticing the new buds and the flourishing crown three days ago, all three trees have been doing incredibly well. In retrospect, it seems so obvious now that it takes time to establish roots. When we start a new job or a new relationship or a new project, it can be scary and uncomfortable at first. We dip our toes in just enough to experience something new, without fully and irrevocably immersing ourselves. Good things take time.
I believe that we have access to the same universal wisdom as the tree. If we are still and quiet, we too can sense which direction we need to send our roots to find meaning and sustenance. So often we busy ourselves with the chaos of life; the never-ending struggle to get more, have more, and be more. We may view external circumstances and events as a gauge of our success and happiness.
How much time do you think trees worry thinking about the opinion of other trees? Do trees worry about sowing their seeds in prime real estate? Do the flowers brag about the color, size and fragrance of their blooms?
It is so easy to forget that we can find peace and contentment no matter what. Establishing roots entailed confidence in who you are, where you are, and what you can accomplish. External circumstances may ruffle leaves and bend branches, but roots ensure that the tree stands tall through everything.
The lesson I’ve learned from the three little moringas is that, regardless of surface appearances, an invisible life energy permeates everything. Life is everywhere and, oftentimes, beneath the façade of abeyance lies guidance towards the next step, evidence of right actions, and perhaps even truth.