I once longed for…

A  refuge for the heart sore.   A reclusive, private retreat from the ache of keeping your chin up when life is hard.

I imagined…

A mythical tree, one worthy of legend and half-remembered tales, all but forgotten now, except by just a few.

Those few can tell you of the Grieving Tree.  It is the place you must visit when you cannot move forward.  It is said to heal heart-break and all manners of human anguish.

The gnarled tree has stood sentinel for generations, deep in the outer reaches of the Forest of Sorrows. It lives, never growing green, yet never dying  or rotting away, next to a chill, bottomless, crystal pool of water salted by tears.

This special tree offers us a place to let loose of our long-bottled emotions. It is a place to uncork those loud, wild cries, and thwarted keenings-into-night-winds that most of us have been trained to do without.   We are taught to hide; to lick our wounds in privacy until our hot, silent tears no longer betray our true state. We fear what others think. We have far too much pride. We are often stubbornly mute captives of misplaced strength. We’ve lost our ability to howl our pain. We can rarely even find, or recognize, our true voice.

The rawest sorrow, the deepest despair, the most bitter regrets. These are the deep pains that we rarely bring to the surface in everyday words. Grief lives well in silence. 

There are still a few who believe the only way through sorrow is to vent and vocalize ~ to pay homage to the sadnesses, big and small,  that have shaped us.  Few of us know how to do that on our own. Those words are often difficult.

As in all old tales, the journey to the Grieving Tree is known to be long and hard; through murky, shadowed depths, and treacherous twists and turns. There are wells of lost hope, and pitfalls filled with anger and crushing disappointment. You will almost certainly find the tree by the pool, just when you have finally given up.

None alive today are quite certain how the tree came to be, or how the magic happens. But, be assured, happen it does.  The Grieving Tree can somehow transmute grief, confusion, and fear into acceptance, clarity, and certainty. Then the healing process begins.

It is told that you must kneel by the pool, and slowly trail your fingers through the water while whispering aloud of your private pain. The tree hears you and the air around you begins to waver and shimmer.

The magic lies within the whisper. The words of solitary grief, whispered in this special place, somehow become emotions rendered solid. The world seems to shiver as Crystalline Ornaments of great beauty appear on the tree branches, each representing your heart’s scars, your deepest and most tender emotions. You recognize them immediately, knowing the distinct flavor and shape of each one.

Before you can even begin to absorb the poignancy of your feelings made flesh; these crystallized emotions will fall, split, crack, fragment, and begin to bleed. The fragile, oozing hearts are the physical representation of what you must choose to leave behind; what you must let go in order to learn to forge ahead. Each brilliant drip of heart’s blood gives sound to the silence of grief. The minute droplets give heartbreak a voice.

The brilliant, jewel spatters of wrung-out emotion, each chiming a clear note in the enchanted surroundings, cause the Grieving Tree to stir. The weathered old bark begins to ripple and shape shift, reflecting your ripped-from-the-soul whispered words. It listens.  It absorbs your hurts and echoes your pain, as it gives  your invisible woundings shape,  substance, and sound. Your sorrows are now mirrored in the ancient skin of the twisted tree.  Your scars are immortalized here. You will never forget, but you can now honor the memory and the experience, leaving the agony behind.

Your crystalline heart fragments will continue to drip, slowly, until every last trace of pain has dispersed. Left behind will be only a pearlescent,  gossamer skin of unbelievable fragility.  The first puff of air, your exhalation of wonder at its ethereal beauty, will scatter it in a silvery swirl of gleaming dust-motes.

It is gone, along with the ache.

But you will never forget …


Ⓒ Theresa Stahl

view the painting of The Grieving Tree here: https://www.owlsflight.com/?p=1987