A little temple

I love a particular tree in each of the seasons – but especially, if truth be known, when, after presenting an appearance of fire for a few weeks, it remains brave and bending as late autumn winds divest it of its still glorious leaves.

It’s a particular tree, very close to me, that I have in mind, though a single fallen leaf, all bright and beautiful, on a pavement, ten years ago at Châtelet in Paris – and others in other cities besides – are all attached to heart-stories still, and wind-blown clouds, and contemplation, and prayer.

Mary Oliver speaks of a poem in The Leaf and the Cloud

It wants to open itself,
like the door of a little temple,
so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed,
and less yourself than part of everything.

That’s how my particular tree is for me. Like a little temple. And the temple is before me in the veins and in the blown-about fragility of the fallen leaf on the path in front of me, every bit as much as in, on a larger scale, the tree.

The Leaf and the Cloud have history, origins, inner life, and an ultimate destination – like the tree, like each and every living and dying thing, like me. “Like the door of a little temple …” I am being invited, season by changing season, to enter in and sit awhile, and therein, to see: in life and in death, we’re all “part of everything.”

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