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Poem: How to Hug a Tree

By Dorothy Marschak

Sit under a tree and thank it for protecting you from the sun, the rain, and the wind.

Eat its fruits and nuts and thank it for the bounty that sustains you.

Feast on it with your eyes and marvel at its magnificent symmetries and harmonies, and its changes through the days and seasons.

Listen to its sounds as it responds in every leaf and branch to the movements of the air and the earth.

Caress its bark, which protects it, and thank it for the houses, furniture, paper, rubber tires, chewing gum, maple syrup, and other amenities it provides.

Breathe deeply, and appreciate the air it purifies for you.

Hug a tree as it hugs you.

Study what the tree needs for nourishment. Study how it interacts with neighboring trees, plants, and animals.

Trace the connections of the tree to everything you buy or use in daily life: Are there things you should stop buying or using because they destroy trees faster than they can be replaced, or that take land away from the rainforest?

Are there things you should substitute to help the trees you love? Where do your chopsticks, your incense, and your napkins come from?

Trace the destruction of the rainforest through its chain of causes to discover how to stop it: Poor peasants are driven off the land by businesses searching for export profits, aided by foreign banks and government tax breaks.

Explore the possible ways the rainforest and humans can develop and thrive together, such as eco-tourism, extractive reserves, and the potentials of biodiversity.

Reduce consumption. Recycle. Influence others to do the same. Plant trees.

Hug a tree with a thousand arms reaching around the world, each with an eye containing your whole heart, and you will help save the rainforest and hug yourself.

Dorothy Marschak is an accountant in Washington D.C. who wrote this after her summer at Plum Village.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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