Stand up and Be Seen

By Mark Carlin

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After careful, soulful observation, one can absorb significant life-teachings from the trees, as did Mark, which he shares in these reflections written during the White Pine Initiation

White Pine-You who stood tall, your crowns reaching higher than those you are surrounded by, whose shapes in the distance of my far-sighted vision are more distinct, more recognizable in your individuality.

I saw you from afar late one September day, from a hillside vantage point new to me, and as I looked toward the direction of my own home there down in the valley with Marble Mountain standing, rising, beyond even that, I marveled at the crevasses in the mountain slope and saw forms and shapes never seen before. Yet these indentations, these hollows, that revealed themselves, these very slopes, where many a day and many a mile I have walked the woods and followed the stream bed and meandered upon well worn animal trails—from this distant point of view you caught my eye and I could nearly count your individual members standing there within the vast leafed canopy of your deciduous relatives.  You do stand out among the crowd. I praise your courage to do so. Your life holds instruction for me, tells me to be willing to do the same.

Like my friend said yesterday, you are not the biggest conformist in the world, as many of your limbs grow in whatever direction and length you see fit. Sometimes many of your arms spread out only on your left side or only in one direction on some portion from your torso.Some of your branches droop while some reach upward.  Sometimes you grow full and flush, thick in form, while others in their years and years of growing upwards have sent out no limbs at all for long stretches of time before deciding to reach out into one unencumbered space and respond to the counterbalance need of your vertical aspirations.

While creeping thyme, ground ivy and princess pine hold fast and merge their selves together in tight knit community, you reach for the sky. Each and every one of your five-fingered needle nodules drink from the sun.  Thank you for your instruction to stand strong, to be exposed and seen in all your irregularities. My strength is to be like you in these ways. It’s OK to be old, a bit ragged at times, to be grandiose,to sometimes be incomplete and other times abundant in the fullest of shape.

Peace is not something to attain as much as something to maintain, not a thing to acquire or a condition to establish, but instead a willingness to be what and who we are in relation to everything else in the world, each according to their nature.

To stand up and be seen. To watch over, to affect healthily those around me, these are your instructions to me today. Thank you.