This month I said goodbye to so many people as I closed my psychotherapy practice. But there was one more goodbye to say before I left: to the beautiful pine tree that I watched grow up outside my window for more than seventeen years.
A small seven-footer when I arrived, it is now closer to 25 feet tall. Over the years it sheltered birds, caught plastic bags in its branches (and released them), and swayed with the zephyr winds that blow through northern Nevada. It formed a perfect backdrop for the gorgeous clouds that come along with the zephyrs. I was always so happy to see it in the morning as I arrived.
Being a therapist can be isolating. We talk to people all day long, yet they aren’t and can’t be our friends, part of our social network, however fond of them we become. I had a wonderful office mate, but our schedules were different enough that for weeks at a time we would only see each other briefly while greeting clients in the waiting room.
The tree was always there.
Thich Nhat Hanh used to say, “Sangha (community) is very important. But even if you are all alone, a tree can be your sangha, can be there for you, reminding you of our deep interconnectedness with all things.” Thank you, pine tree, for your steady presence.
What brings you a sense of connection?
Photo: This is my tree, though the background does not show the grey building it stands beside, painted as a gift to me by a lapsed artist who understood the teaching of connection.