Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Preparatory Journey: To My Roots...

This morning I set off with a friend on what I now understand was a preparatory journey... a walk back in time to
A painting by Nancy Jorgenson
based on an old B&W
photograph of the tree.
sit at the base of a tree that is for me a marker of my rootedness in the Bruce family and the red soil of Prince Edward Island.

This large Elm tree sits at the base of a field which once belonged to my grandfather.  Each summer we made the trek from Ontario to Prince Edward Island there was always one other journey to make: to the tree to get our picture taken at its base.  One can see the years pass, styles come and go, and boys turn to men by looking at these pictures. And when my boys were small I tried to continue the practice.  It was a little more difficult as the land was no longer in the family and children being children they did not want to journey to the distant mosquito infested field - simply to have their picture taken.

This tree has long been a marker of rootedness for me.  In addition to the place to which we came for pictures, it was a place to which I came for quiet, to seek direction in my life... to sit at its base, ponder its size, enjoy its shelter and discern which it was that I, like its branches, would reach for next.

I found myself under the tree the spring after my grandfather died and at other times when I found myself a crossroads on the journey... and here I am again on this day: sitting at its base, pondering its size, enjoying its shelter (swatting the many mosquitos) and pondering what I would reach for next: the light - always the light, turning to the light.

From the tree, the quiet reflective day, mimicking the hallowed light of sunshine after rain, continued in a drive through Pleasant Grove with memories of clearing land, building a garage and barn, dirt-biking and snowmobiling, best friends and teenage foolishness up and down the road... and seeing trees standing tall that I had planted all along the laneway of Lowell and Mary Lou Vessey's home, Algonquin Farms where I worked during my teenage years.

There is something deeply satisfying to see see a tree you planted, as a young thin sapling, standing thick and tall, providing shade to a laneway along which a family travels.  There is a permanence to trees... they sink their roots deep where they are planted and grow... reaching always for the light.  Changing with the seasons theirs is a resilience that we two footed beings would do well to learn - to bend, to sway and let the storms pass through.  Yes, there is always risk of damage, risk that in the reaching something may be lost... but, what is the alternative?  To stop growing?  To cease reaching? To eliminate the feeling of the wind blowing through your leaves?

The choice for me is simple: to continue growing, reaching and allowing the wind to blow through what little hair this almost 50 year old head has on it...  growing deeper in my knowledge of self and the world in which I live, asking questions and building new relationships, reaching for new knowledge and experiences and yes, riding... always riding on the Sabbath Road...

And so, here I sit at the base of this deeply rooted tree, with both fragile and strong limbs, the consequence of storms and choices at my feet, embarking on a new journey... extending those strong limbs to the brightening sky while nurturing new shoots, hidden in the maze and mystery of my being, reaching always reaching...  On the Sabbath Road...





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