Not long after requesting a message from the trees, I slammed into one going 15-20 mph in my car.

The tree stood strong. My head slammed into the steering wheel twice, leaving me shocked and dizzy.  My car windows shattered on the first impact, the hood on the second.  The airbags deployed, the doors would not open.

When the car finally stopped after ten seconds of wild freefall in crushed metal and glass machine (car), I opened my eyes. I was alive! I could see. I climbed out the broken passenger side window as I did in my wildest superhero dreams. I ran in a daze to the garden to find my friends – a miracle! They were lazing right beside the gate to my side of the forest. At that moment, I knew I was safe.

It is the evening, five hours after the crash. My body is shaken and forehead bruised. Tiny pieces of glass have cut into my right forearm, and my left foot is limping. And yet I am marveling at my working brain, tested negative for neurological damage at the local ER. I am struck by my intact nose, somehow not broken. I have a concussion and have doctor's orders to be lazy and rest. And so I am up late, transcribing the tree’s message.

Dear one,

Treasure life. Truly dearly step into the wonder of breathing, seeing, walking, climbing. Touch your body. Wiggle your fingers, raise your hands, smile, test out foreign muscles. Dance!

One day soon you will be asked to step into the streets, bearing nothing but your two hands, your trembling beating heart, your breath. The sacredness of this body in the profane streets. Prepare yourself. Nourish this vessel with clean food and water. Bathe your traumas in presence. Sleep enough. Take care of your brain. Meditate enough to still your mind. Train in listening.

Bow to the earth, get down into your hands and knees and give thanks for this land, this land that bears us fruit each harvest and asks of us nothing in return. Offer love. Offer gratitude. Offer the fullness of your beautiful soul.

You are a miracle. Your body is a divine gift. Do not waste a moment in forgetfulness, remember who you are. The descendent of generations of those that tended the land and built things of it: farmer and fisherman, steelworker, cook. You are made for this moment: you do not need a title, degree, more money or time to be ready. You are here for a reason.

Cast off the layers of untruths boxing you into a list of identities: woman, Asian, American, writer, teacher, engineer. You are all of these and none of them; you are ungraspable. Step into the truth of the unknown changing shape of your being. Build coalition and community. Look more deeply than you ever have before. With others wield the power of mindful presence. Create an energy field of healing and love for all that cross the threshold.

Do not judge man or woman or child, do not assume gender or desire or dream; each person is amorphous like you — and does not need categorization. People are not supposed to be simple. Welcome all and celebrate difference. Know that intolerance of people who have radically opposite views is still separation. Love everyone as your family.

Let go of your impatience. Act because it is in alignment with your soul, not because you need a result to feel good about yourself. In fact, do nothing that is not resonating with your soul. Do not act out of anything less than your full and powerful being-ness.

Do not hide behind privilege. Air purifiers and denial will only cleanse the smoky air for so long. In hot showers do not forget those in Palestine without water for weeks. Do not hide, do not forget!

And do not grow complacent in your house by the river. Remember that nothing lasts — not joy and not the river — it too is gone by July, and returns on a prayer in November rains.

Stop thinking of the election as life or death. It is but another passing day in the span of eons. The earth will survive humankind. Our species will die long after our human bodies decay. The trees may persist, and the bacteria, and the elements that create and sustain life. You humans are not the center of the universe. There is no certainty in anything.

Stop running. Watch the turkeys as they wander through the garden. Delight in beauty. Love yourself and others. Do not waste a moment of this precious life. Be brave and tender and full of the most real fear. Go forth into the darkness anyway.

When you're tired and doubting, come to rest in my cooling embrace. Watch the falling of my yellow leaves and remember your own impermanence.

the forest near you