Ritual & Prayer: Ways to Feed the Tree

reflections on food

Suppose you’re standing up close to this big old tree. I mean way big. You stand up close and wrap your arms around it and feel its heart beating like a big old drum inside it, your heart beating with it.

Then you look up and that big old tree is spiraling upward and up, stretching its big old tree arms way up high into the sky, reaching its branches way out sideways into the world. It is spiraling upward into the highest of the highest of the heavens, then downward.

Ohh! Those roots, those aching roots are sinking down. And oh my! You are there alongside, with your bare, flat feet standing upon the skin of the great Mother, sinking your roots down through the soles of your feet alongside the big old tree, deep, I mean way deep into the wet, cool, loamy darkness of the Mother.

You know, I mean you really know you are standing with the Tree, and you know, by now, you know you are the Tree.

Breathing oxygen through your lungs that are really leaves, connecting with every living thing that ever had a living spark ~ a stone, an ocean, the sun, the moon, black panthers, loping bears, cold water fish, butterflies, dragonflies, plants of all kinds, running streams and lakes. I mean you are connected to everything; planets, stars, everything in this, in the next, in the worlds gone by and the worlds that will ever be.

We are the big old tree.
Our roots go back generation upon generation and stretch forward into our future. We are the bridge twixt earth and sky, connecting to the web of life, our hearts beating in our bodies to the drum beat of the earth. We are the Tree.

When the Lakota Medicine Man Black Elk passed over, his tears were running because the Tree did not bloom. His vision was to mend the hoop that connects us to the web of life, to make the Tree of Life leaf, bloom and fill with singing birds.

If we are to carry on the vision of Black Elk, how do we make the Tree grow and bloom? How do we feed and tend to the Tree? The answer is not to go snacking on ‘cheese-its’, or let self-doubt paralyze us, or allow the darkness of world news to infiltrate our true knowing. The Tree is crying out for wholesome organic soul food! Its roots are always hungry for relationship with the Mystery, the Invisible, the Creative, the Sacred.  

When I pay attention to my spiritual hunger I am drawn irresistibly toward shaping the mystery into a living form. For me, this happens naturally through the flow of ritual and prayer.  

I lay out a square of soft, white fabric and place a candle at its center.  Alongside the candle I place a feather, a leaf, or a flat, smooth, river stone. My senses quicken, my heart opens as I light the candle. I speak out to Great Spirit and the Spirits of the Land to support the prayers being called in to feed the Tree of Life at the center of the universe that holds up all the worlds. 

may it bud fresh with new leaves of consciousness,
may it blossom and bear fruit for all the people and for generations to come,
may it lend shelter to singing birds and broken hearts,
may the Tree be warmed by day in sunshine and cooled by night in moonlight, 
may the streams that flow beneath its roots be clean and clear,
may the air it breathes on our behalf, be clean and clear,
may  our warming climate be transmuted and brought into balance,
may our one human people in all our diversity be fed and cherished in body and soul,
may we explore kindness as a way of giving back to one another and to the Mystery,
may we live out our creativity in right livelihood,
may the waters of compassion be our natural resource,
may we honor our ancestors who learned their lessons well, who watered and fed the Tree before us. 

The blessing has brought itself to a natural place of rest. I step back from the white cloth, the river stone and the candle. The flame flickers bright with blessing power. I remain silent, absorbing the energies of the prayer. Thanking the hidden intelligence of the universe, the Spirits of the Land, and any other Helping Spirits known or unknown for holding and assisting with this offering.

I feel full. This has been a good way to feed my Tree.