My wife and I are in Seattle for a week visiting our daughter and son-in-law. We’re also doing some hiking in preparation for our Ireland pilgrimage with Vox Peregrini in less than a month. Today we walked a bit more than seven miles. We walked from our daughter’s house to Beaver Lake. Near the Lake I spotted this tree. It reminds me of a tree in Ireland near Knockree. The tree is ancient. It has to be more than 200 years old. And though the core of the tree has died, its wisdom remains, Like The Tree of Life.
Walking in the midst of creation is an opportunity to gain wisdom from ancients. I have learned so much on my pilgrimage experiences from the wisdom of the trees as well as the mountains, birds, and animals. The souls of nature can teach us so much if we can listen deeply at a soul level. Our soul listening to the soul of the tree.
This kind of listening is a process that begins with being consciously aware of our surroundings. First, we must use our five senses to be fully connected to our experience. What do I see? I have to be looking for the Tree of Life. I have to stop. What does the tree feel like? Can I smell it? Do I dare taste it? If I am intimate and vulnerable in the presence of the tree—then she might speak to me. Especially if she thinks I am listening. If I listen carefully, I might gain some deeper truth of wisdom.
The process of wisdom walking has four phases, of which sensing is the first. We move from sensing to thinking, then feeling, and finally into the phase of imagination. The final phase is where we can hear deeply from creation and learn from those nuggets she has to teach us. I believe wisdom walking is an alchemical pilgrimage. Turning the raw experience of our journey into golden wisdom. This sensing phase is akin to the blackening of alchemy. The interesting thing about this tree is that it was struck by lightening. The interior was scorched. Still, in this black phase, this tree has much to teach me. The tree has endured to share her wisdom with those who pass by. What did I hear? Truthfully, it only matters to me. In the same way, what you hear is for your ears only. I can tell you this, her blackened interior had a sweet taste.