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The Giant Oak Speaks…

“There is a season for everything,” said the writer of Ecclesiastes. “A time to hold on and a time to let go.”  It’s the season to let go.  Leaves are falling everywhere. But, I’ve noticed a curious thing over the years. The giant oak tree that blankets our front yard and shades our entire house seems to subbornly resist letting go of its leaves every year.

Reminds me of myself. Long after the Maples and Dogwoods have yielded to the call of winter, the oak will cling to leaves.  Finally, however, when the coldest nights come in January, it will surrender to winter and its few remaining leaves will be freed to fall to the ground.

Yes, I have a little conversation with the oak about this time every year. I remind it that there’s a season for everything…a time to grasp and a time let go.  But then, just as I begin to scold the oak tree for its stubbornness, I remember that I’m just like it. I cling. I hold on. I feel insecure.  I find it hard to do what the Buddha said I must–detach.  To live in trust. To let go of ego and its fears.  So today, I will practice remembering it is time to let go…to detach…to…

  • Let go of the past. It is but a memory and no matter how precious, it can never be reclaimed.  Yet, I look at the pictures on the mantle of those days when my children were young and I cry. I cannot help myself. Where did life go?  Why did they grow up so fast?  I was duly warned when they were young that they would come and go faster than the seasons of the year..that the day would come I would stand at the mantle and wonder how it all happened so quickly.  That day is here. I know it is time to let go…to…
  • Let go of my regrets.  I have them, don’t you? When I hear people say, “If I could live my life over, I wouldn’t change a thing,” I think to myself, “I would.”  There are things I would not have said.  There are many things I would have said.  There are risks I would have taken.  Maybe it’s different for you but I’ve found it easier to forgive myself for the things I’ve done than I have for the things I didn’t do.  But, I know it’s time to let go…to stop punishing myself…to stop hating myself…to start loving my life for what it is…to let go of the ego that always says inside my head, “You didn’t quite make it did you?”  It is time to…
  • Let go of my fears…my worries.  Do you ever worry about your children like I do? Or, about yourself? Whether your health will hold up? Whether time will ever slow down its relentless march toward death?  And, whether you’ll have enough to live on until you do die? I have so much to let go of, do you?  I must let go, I know. And, so must you.  If you wish to be free, that is.  Free to live in the awareness of Divine provision and grace.  To trust. To know that just as no leaf–think of this as you drive down the street and leaves fall like rain on the streets, on your windshield–remind yourself that no leaf ever, ever falls to the ground unnoticed.  If that is so, then how could you ever be forgotten?  Virtually all spiritual traditions remind you and me that the Universe remembers.  Every leaf I see today will remind me to pause for just a few seconds…to breathe deeply…and, as I do, to inhale the grace of the fall air…to let it replenish my fading memory…and to rekindle in me the awareness I, too, can let go…to let life alone…to fall freely into the hands of Eternal Love. Blessings to you, my friend.

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2 Responses to The Giant Oak Speaks…

  1. Tamara Sommerville November 20, 2011 at 11:32 AM #

    Well said, Steve. I, too, live surrounded by oaks that don’t loose all their leaves every year. They remind me they were here long before me and will be here long after me. That stability reminds me that God is always with me: as steady as those trees. I certainly don’t have to climb one of those oaks to get His attention–I already have it within me. I notice the woodpeckers have drilled thousands of little holes for acorns but the tree’s strength is not affected by this. Spiritually I’ve drilled little holes in the religious programming I was raised in but those holes brought the whole thing down. But from those holes have come the seeds of redemption and a knowing of God’s presence in my life that I never had. Detaching and forgiving myself for living half a life for many years helps me to recognize daily how blessed I am by a loving creator.
    Keep doing what your doing, Steve. You’re a blessing.

    • Dr. Steve McSwain November 20, 2011 at 2:48 PM #

      Beautiful words. Thanks Tamara for reading and responding. I wish you and yours a most blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

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