Dance invitations, flitting around in the wind, greeted me as I walked outside. The heart shaped leaves of a cottonwood tree carried the invites. Creation had not only noticed me, but had also bid me to dance.
At first I watched and was sure that I saw glimpses of flamenco dancers in the trees. I joined them, moving to the beat of the palmas, without a single care of what anyone might think or say.
The worry that had quietly lurked for most of my years, as if it were a part of me, was now gone. Gratefully, I understood what my new friend, Cotton Wood, was saying to me, through dance.
This freedom has little to do with external circumstances and everything to do with Spirit fluttering, as the leaves of a cottonwood, inside of you!
For the most part, cottonwoods are easy to love. They are members of the warm-hearted trees. Just when fall’s rich melancholy begins to hang over the desert floor, cottonwoods paint broad strokes of happy along the rivers’ banks. Because their wood is soft, these trees are approachable.
Woodcarvers, basket weavers and beavers readily choose to use them in their craft. Cottonwoods are healers, as well, having medicinal properties akin to aspirin.
The cottonwood has limits, though. A shallow root system needs readily available water. If the cottonwood’s thirst is not quenched, it can breakup walkways and foundations in order to get to the water that is up underneath.
Plant a cottonwood too close to your house, because you want its shade, and you may find a portion of your house uprooted.
So, while dancing with Mr. Wood, I soaked up his wisdom:
When a situation stretches me beyond my limits, it is wise to reach out and go deep, too.
Like cottonwoods, when surface oriented people face problems beyond their nature, maturity or depth of faith, they may invade the natural limits of others. Close communion with Spirit will deepen me beyond neediness and strengthen me for wise counsel.
Just as Cotton Wood helps others by showing the way to water, shade…and mosquitos, I, too, have a gift to give to the world. The gift lies within my nature and there is a shadow side of that gift.
So, as I danced a free, even flaunting tango with Mr. Wood, rather than begging for his energy to quench my thirst, I celebrated being fully alive.
After our dance, I sat under the shade of Cotton’s broad branches and thought about how I might give to and receive from my community, moving toward wholeness, union with God?”