Shambhala Sun | May 2014
Tree of Wisdom
Oak and maple, palm and pine—trees are our closest
neighbors and most patient teachers. HENRY SHUKMAN on the common roots of
people and trees.
There is a cabin in
the remote mountains of northern New Mexico that stands on the side of a steep,
wooded ravine. It is hidden deep among the huge ponderosa pines that thrive in
the high air. Near the cabin, one lone dead pine soars a hundred feet into the
sky. It has been dead a few years now and is known as the “Corkins Tree,” after
the cabin’s last owners, and there’s a story attached to it.
The Corkins lived
in the cabin for many years and stayed on even after they had sold the property
to a friend of mine. They became good friends with him, and my friend was
intrigued by the way the husband always referred to the then healthy giant pine
as “his tree.”
“We’re close,” he
used to say. “I swear, the day that tree goes, I go too. And vice versa.”
Henry Shukman’s latest collection of poetry is Archangel, published by Vintage. He is a
Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan lineage.