Naked Trees

The trees that line my Portland city street stand tall. They reach my 7th floor windows. 

Each morning, as I sip coffee in the corner of my kitchen, I look at the sky, and I observe these trees.

I remember a Scholastic News issue I wrote for first- and second-graders, describing what happens to deciduous trees throughout each season. I still see in my mind’s eye the four photos I selected to best represent a single tree in its four distinct “outifts.”  

The trees outside my window remind me so often of that magazine issue. In the many places we’ve lived, I’ve had all sorts of views: moors on Nantucket, the Flatirons in Boulder, evergreens in North Carolina, the Hudson River in NYC, desert mountains in Las Vegas. 

But I’ve never had a front row seat to the dramatic wardrobe changes of a deciduous tree.  

When we moved 4 blocks down the street to this apartment in August, the fullness and greenness of these majestic trees reminded me of a city-version of Anne of Green Gables.  

In the fall, I witnessed, with awe and a touch of melancholy, thousands of green leaves slip into their gold, orange, and red autumn coats.

I watched, mesmerized, as swatches of color released themselves and fluttered languidly down…down…down… surrendering themselves to the sidewalk below. 

On this snowy February day, the trees stand naked. The stark branches expose an occasional squirrel’s nest. They also expose the apartment windows behind them, allowing me to peer with ease into living spaces that were private a few months ago.

When I look at these naked trees, I’m reminded that winter is a time to hangout in our own private living spaces and private interiors. Spring and summer will soon tempt our attention and our activity outward. But for now, I imagine these bare trees whispering, “Sink into slow time. Be still. Go in and down. Touch your darkness, your depths, your joy, your longing, your vulnerability, your essence. It’s food for your buds, your green leaves, your lusciousness.”

"Winter Trees”
~William Carlos Williams 

All the complicated details 

of the attiring and 

the disattiring are completed! 

A liquid moon 

moves gently among 

the long branches. 

Thus having prepared their buds 

against a sure winter 

the wise trees 

stand sleeping in the cold.


I love this poem’s calm assurance that the disattiring is as natural and essential as the attiring. 

The trust and surrender conveyed in this poem, and the naked winter trees outside my window, bring to mind a quote I read this week from Danielle LaPorte’s blog post titled ‘Naked Prayer’:

The great mystics speak of vulnerability in prayer a spiritual nakedness where you disrobe of pretences and come to God as you are.”

Also, this prayer for the days when we feel tender and uncertain (when “to stand sleeping in the cold,” as wise trees do, feels unnatural and unbearable):

Take my fear. Take my fear of my fear.
Take my shame. Take my shame of my shame.
Take my terror. Take my terror of my terror.

In a few short months, the tight, brown buds outside my window will pop into plump, green buds that will burst into the lushness that welcomed me in August.

With this month’s WTG theme, Self-Knowledge and Free-Flow Writing, I invite you to know your nature through writing practice. To know your multiple selves and multiple seasons: Green and lush. Colorful and changing. Brown and dying. Bare and vulnerable. 

We bud. We grow. We rest. We release. Again and again, in our unique, individual ways -- in our own divine timing. 

How cool is that, fellow trees, fellow travelers!?

And how cool is our technology that makes it easy not just to connect, but to CONNECT, as in to lovingly witness one another in our various seasons. There’s enormous nourishment that comes from showing up in our notebooks just as we are, and noticing the moment, just as it is, in the safe container of a women’s circle.

If you’re free Thursday morning, I warmly invite you to make a cup of tea, hop on your computer, and join us in our intimate WTG Zoom-Room, an online 90-minute writing circle. If it’s your first circle, type ‘free’ to be my guest. To learn more and to register, click here.

With love,

Want to write?
Take a pen & prompt journey:

writing prompt

take my fear

1). Grab a pen + notebook. Write the prompt at the top of the page. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Or 5. Or 2!

2). Keep your pen moving as you write the thoughts, feelings, and images that arise. Don’t stop to think or edit. Don’t try to stay on “topic.” Follow where the prompt takes you.

3). Accept ALL that you write -- the pretty + ugly; absurd + boring. Discover what wants to be felt, known, expressed, released...