I used to, pre-pandemic, take monthly trips to Auburn, California to stay at Mercy Center’s retreat center. It’s a beautiful Catholic retreat center amid a small forested area. Once when I was there, the rooms were full, so I stayed in their hermitage, a lovely duplex nestled in the oaks and redwoods. I looked out at the enormous trees from the living room, and it was there, as I contemplated the beauty of trees, that Tree Singer was born.
This idea came to me about the symbiosis of all living things. It came to me in the form of a “What if?” question, as most of my book ideas do. What if there was a girl who could help trees grow by singing to them? And my imagination was off to the races! Tree Singer is a book I worked on for about four years. It encompasses many themes: a girl finding her voice, using and growing her gifts, and having quite an adventure in the meantime. The theme of the unity of all living things is paramount to the book. But — there is also a hidden theme.
Here is what the back cover says:
Fifteen-year-old Mayten loves training as a tree singer, an esteemed position among her clan. But when she feels pain coming from the trees, she finds herself on an unexpected quest, one so dangerous she might never return home.
Now Mayten must use her unfinished training to face betrayal, fear, and a deadly foe. Is she a match for the ancient evil attacking her trees, or will the entire kingdom fall to ruin?
You won’t find the secret theme there. Nope. You won’t notice it at all unless you’re a student of St. Teresa of Avila and have read the Interior Castle. Or if you’ve done some training on the stages of spiritual development, which you can read on my blog starting here.
Mayten goes through several stages of learning to listen to the trees, and these I based on the idea of our stages of spiritual development. The ultimate stage, and the one we may never experience, being unity.
So, if you’re interested in trees, nature, an exciting quest, and hidden spiritual themes, give Tree Singer a try today!
You can pre-order an eBook Copy HERE. You can enter to win one of 100 free eBook copies HERE. And the print book will be available on Valentines Day! Can’t wait.
As Americans, prior to 2020, we have been insulated from much of the pain and suffering others face in our world daily. We have busied ourselves with overwork, material possessions, technology and substance abuse to the point we often forget what is real and what is important.
Now all our comfort and predictability are being stripped away. We have more time than most of us know what to do with. Acquiring possessions has lost its shine and everyone is getting sick of staring at screens, although I imagine substance abuse is at an all-time high (pun intended).
What are we learning about ourselves? Hopefully we are learning to BE with ourselves, and face the sometimes-hard reality of who we are. I used to take students on a week of camp to focus on different spiritual practices. Our one day of silence and solitude scared them to death. A whole day without talking to each other, or using their phones was frightening. Yet, it was the day they loved most. It was a day to listen to themselves and to God; a day to be in nature; a day to rest and be restored; a day to face truths about themselves — sometimes difficult truths. but always deeply healing. Don’t miss this unique time in history to reevaluate your life, your decisions, your use of time and money. Don’t forget to BE.
I hope we are learning not to live in FEAR. There is so much to be afraid of right now. I could get the virus. My father could die if he gets it. All you have to do is turn on the news and your blood pressure will skyrocket; fearmongering has become a national pastime. I find the fear flowing from Christian sources especially disturbing. We are told to “fear not” 365 times in the Bible (that’s one for every day of the year!) and in 2 Timothy we read1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
We could use some sound minds about now. We cannot live in sustained fear. It’s been a year now; our adrenal glands can’t take much more of it. So how do we let go of fear? We learn to cherish the real. What is real?
People and relationships are real. Christmas this year was especially precious. I saw it all over Facebook. People were saying how Christmas was small but oh so special because they got to be together with a small group of loved ones. It felt that way at our house. Everyone was so careful the two weeks before so we could be together. My children hadn’t seen each other since March. We laughed, and talked and opened presents made by small businesses and local crafters. It was simple and fun and unrushed. I hope it is something we can keep. If you haven’t already, make spending time with those you love a priority this year.
Pets are real. Our dog Rosie is keeping us grounded. She gets us out of the house every day for a walk. She cuddles with us as we watch TV at night. She loves us unconditionally and she is right there when things get so hard one of us breaks down to cry. In fact, when my husband and I recently had a spat, Rosie ran back and forth between us until we made up! She’s a marriage therapy dog!
Nature is real. Now, even in when it is cold, we need to get outside. Trust me, we have very cold mornings here but we bundle up and get out and walk and it is always restorative to our souls.
Work is real. Hopefully you are able to continue to work. Work is hard right now. It’s not the same to work from home. It’s not the same if you go in. But work is important. We have to face the reality of doing work differently and pray for the grace to do our jobs well and with a good attitude. Sometimes I find I’m praying through the whole day of work.
Pain is real. People are dealing with incredible pain. Life is full of pain. Things are hard. But this truth has always been with us; we’ve just been able to mask it. Now it’s time to face it. How? Try the Welcoming Prayer. Sit with your difficult feelings, let yourself really feel the sadness, anger, fear, or whatever it is. Don’t push it away. Denying hard feelings won’t make them leave, it just makes them come out in your body as headaches, stomachs aches, or back aches. Welcome them. Feel them. Then ask them, “What do you want me to know?” and listen. You will learn something important if you allow yourself to cherish even the hard things. There is wisdom inside us if we will listen.
Creativity is real. I’ve loved seeing people press into creativity during this pandemic. My husband picked up a craft he hadn’t tried in 25 years and made beautiful Christmas gifts for our whole family. It has given him new energy and joy and we have all benefited. Creativity is lifegiving. Allow yourself the freedom to try something new this year. Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out perfect, Fail Forward. No one cares and it’s fun.
How will you be cherishing the real this year? What have you learned about yourself that has fed your soul during this difficult year?