Mass Shooting and Hearing the Story of the Aspens by Michelle Katz
I awoke Sunday morning to the headlines, the daily news, hitting my heart in way that echoes through my life. Another mass shooting in the US. The numbers keep escalating and frequency increasing. We are killing each other and ourselves and doing nothing about it. It is hard for me to not get disheartened by these events. It now seems that our response to these events is to become more and more detached, in the normalizing of these situations. It’s such a tragic happening, and even more so when we lose our ability to authentically and heartfully react, thus becoming removed and dissociated from what’s happening in our world. How can we not look anther and see, that person is the same as I? Are we feeling so powerlessness, stressed isolated? Where is our sense of connectedness and our knowing ability to create change? For those people who are working in this realm, who tireless aim to create change in policy through conscious activism and who create movement because of the knowing of the preciousness of life, for these individuals, I feel so grateful for your strength and the important role you hold in our society, especially noting your reliance during such heart-rendering times.
All in all, I sit and ask, what’s happening? A question I ask myself often. Both, on the mirco- and macro-. My brain often comes up with theories.
That same morning, after hearing this news, I found myself in the Aspens of the Santa Fe National Forest. Quiet in this sanctuary, listening for answers.
The rains of the past week had magically cleared with the gift of a sunny and mildly warm day. The yellow leaves of the aspens danced above, before the blue sky. The sounds of the leaves always different this time of year. Their rattle speaking about being: being between life and death, between holding on and letting go, between sky and earth. Living partly in two different states of being, speaks of confusion as well as wisdom and perspective. The columns of white trunks usher me deeper into the woods. I feel their presence with me, I am never alone. Some trunks are marked, wounds or natural scars, often feeling like the eyes of the tree looking and meeting me just as I meet them. Some carved into with messages of the love of a couple or the desired marking of existence through etching a name, all for the tree to endure and eventually absorb. The density of the groove encourages more peace, more awe. And the vistas through the landscape reveals awareness, perspective and the worlds of man and nature together.
It’s always striking to remember the Aspens are one organism, attached by the intricate root system, they are all connected and live with each other, they are from one another, intimately linked. This is how they live, for many, many thousands of years. It is an ancient forest, largely because of its ability to loose leaves every season (in the practice of living and dying), because its able to withstand fires and grow even in harsh conditions (resilience and desire to live), and because every tree is known and connected to the larger system. This is what contributes to the longevity of this nation. This is the story of the Aspens.
I sit in how nature mirrors humanity. Collecting leaves from the ground like the answers to my questions. I see how we must remember we are capable of such a living: of knowing our resilience in time of hardship and noting our desire to be alive and honor life in the face of the heat of our culture’s fires and harsh conditions. I know with all my heart, we must learn to beautifully and naturally change the colors of leaves, as the aspens do, and to let them fall as the seasons call for them to for they will offer growth for the seasons to come. And most of all, I pray that we may learn from the Aspens that truly and wholly, we are all connected and deeply related to each other. And may all this enhance our humanity’s life on this planet.
Experience nature as mirror in holding hard questions in your life, learn how to move with the cycles of nature and human nature, know your resilience and feel into your community with Oaks Counsel’s programs and nature-based offerings.