What Can We Learn From the Trees?

Eitz Haim Hi? עץ חיים היא

In Jewish tradition, the “Tree of Life,” is a symbol that I feel very strongly tied to, for many reasons. A significant reason is my name Elana, in Hebrew means; “tree” or “oak tree.” Oak trees are mighty, giant trees known for their sacred wisdom, unyielding strength and high morale. Trees for me and for many, represent a higher level of spirit, of transcendence to another power.

What can trees teach us and what does this have to do with setting intentions?

In the Jewish calendar (we follow the moon/lunar cycles); we find ourselves in the month of Shevat, it can be known as a time of “wintering” of deep contemplation. In the American (Gregorian) calendar, we celebrate with “The New Year.” In Shevat, on January 15th, we observe a holiday, “The Celebration of the Trees.” In Jewish text: The great French Rabbi/commentator; Rashi, explains that Tu B’Shvat is when the sap of new life begins to rise in the trees, which leads to the production of new fruit. In other words, even though we can’t see it yet, Tu B’Shvat is when the magic starts.

With the beautiful white, sparkling snow on the ground, days are becoming longer, we’re given permission to slow down and to turn more inward to ourselves. Every year, we’re met with the opportunity to start anew, to renew our spirit, our mind, body and soul.

Trees are the oldest, living breathing giants on Mother Earth, they have been around for nearly thousands and thousands of years. The truth is, we tend to take for granted all that they provide to us. Trees give us the ability to “breathe.” Without them, we would not be able to live on this planet. How miraculous is that? What a gift, what a blessing. How can we not believe in a higher power?

As I continue to strengthen my connection, to Judaism, to the lunar (moon calendar). It is no coincidence that I find myself reflecting and writing about this time. Did you know that every 7 years, we’re in a Shmita; in tradition, if “we were farmers”, we were asked to take a period of rest. A time to take pause, to stop working and to let the land and trees, ultimately and collectively to take a nap.

In 2022, and with the ongoing pandemic, we all are due for a nice, long, and restful time, aren’t we? I don’t know about you but I could use some serious time, a sabbatical even to take space, to take time and actually not have to work the daily grind of working, of living.

In a world where reality is opposite of that; stay busy, keep going, be productive and we continue to live this way…

How can we take small baby steps to take back the practice of Shmita and taking small steps to conserve our energy to move forward in the years that follow?

It is hard to believe that a year ago, I was in the process of leaving things (places, people) that no longer aligned with me and my life. I am sure that others can relate to this. After all, the pandemic helped us see what really matters and what is important to us in our lives.

Hello 2022. As we close out the year of 2021 and move into a new year, I have decided to set intentions (small steps) that hold value for me and that I can bring into 2022. 2021 for many of us and much of the word was challenging to say the least.

As I reflect on 2021, it was a year of uncertainty, of courage, of opportunity and pushing myself more to the person I see myself un-becoming and becoming. Whose wasn’t? It was also a year that I deepened my practice with my spirituality more and more and I was able to un-earth some areas of my creativity that I have been able to really tap into, until now. I am thankful for 2021, it helped me grow, took me to places (directly and in-directly that helped spark my creativity, and helped me to understand myself more deeply (professionally and personally).

2022. As I close my eyes, slow down my breathing and get grounded. I am holding myself to create intentions of what I envision for not only this year but to help me continue to grow in areas that I have been wanting to focus on. Instead of setting new years resolutions that I would like to reach, I am creating a vision for this year. By holding space to think, explore and dig deeper, I believe this statement will help me lean into this year, fully and be more present in my life.

Here is my mantra or intention for this year:

-Cultivate inner growth, strengthen my roots and grow as strong as an “Oak Tree”

-Cultivate by definition means to to me; to prepare, improve or foster something.

-Inner growth by definition means to me; to really get in touch with ourselves, our deep knowing, and learn to understand the divine energy of who we are.

-Action by definition means to me; to fulfill an area and feel an accomplishment by completing a task or milestone.

May this year be a year of laying a stronger foundation and a will to keep going. If I need some inspiration to keep going, I will remember what the trees can teach me/us.

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