Rising Sap, Resilient Spirits, & Replenished Souls

Often we think of environmentalism as a new phenomenon. Maybe we would be willing to say that it dates back to Woodstock, dancing in the fields, nature-loving, and tree-hugging, but that’s about as far back as it goes.

The truth is that environmentalism, care for the land, appreciation for nature, and good stewardship for the earth has been around for millennia. It’s part and parcel of many of the ancient, spiritual traditions. 

Certainly, Native American practices have always revolved around Mother Nature. Many Eastern religions abound in respect for the land. And Kabbalah, the mystical expression of Judaism, is deeply “rooted” in the earth.

The Kabbalistic holy day Tu B’shvat, is a day dedicated entirely to trees – literally “The New Year for Trees.”

Essentially this is a day when we formally turn our attention to the divinity abounding in nature and specifically embodied in trees. 

The kabbalists say that, after a long winter, on this day the sap begins to awaken within the tree and ascend on its way to producing leaves, flowers, and fruits. What appeared to be dead was merely dormant; the trees were resting through the dark, cold winter, waiting patiently to begin their ascent into spring, once again.

Trees have so much to teach us, but nothing more important than this: when the winter’s of life and loss descend into our lives, and all we feel is the cold, the darkness, and death’s powerful grip, we need to remember the secret of the trees. 

What appears to be dead is often simply dormant. There is sap within there, an energy, a life force, a vitality which has been slowly gathering, methodically regaining its strength, and patiently readying itself for a return.

This is what each and every one of us needs to remember. 

No matter how dark it might have been, or still might be; regardless of how cold the wintry nights still are – it won’t last forever. The hope of spring is just around the corner. The vitality of summer is out there somewhere. 

In the words of Albert Camus, 

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

Turn to the land to find your inspiration.

Go out into nature to awaken your soul.

Look to the trees to remember that in the midst of your winter, rising within you is the spirit of an invincible summer. 

May this be a year where the burnt forests heal, the parched plains replenish, and the diminishing aquifers refill. 

May this be the year when we finally learn, as individuals and a society, to live out the secret of the trees.