Reflections on the Loss of our Oroville Heritage Trees

The Sacred Sycamores took my breath away the first time I befriended them. Silent sentinels guarding the gateway to the burial ground of ancestors. Majestic and unique, these Trees were giant blessing wands sent from Europe as a symbol of strength. Twelve Trees stood honorably and grew roots into the soil of the new Promised Land. As I stood there helplessly watching them being destroyed I was heartbroken. The words of Chief Seattle sang through my tears, “Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the Trees carries the memory of our ancestors.” Have we not learned? The image of those forklifts, men with hard hats and hard hearts, chained fences, and crying citizens as the Trees were slashed haunts me still. Many have asked me for inspiration on how to cope with this situation. My strategy for myself and my advice to everyone is prayer, meditation, forgiveness and constructive action. Jesus set us free from a “dog-eat dog world” to a world of compassionate action. He instructed us to “turn the other cheek” and override the viral programming of the Reptilian Brain. Anger, sadness and blaming the Mayor and the City Council may be justified but staying in emotional turmoil and resentment will only poison our self and exhaust our energies. Now is the time to engage in spiritual practice and focus on a new vision for our city. It takes effort to breathe, relax and think before we speak or act out in times of loss and despair. The Kingdom of the Heavens is alive on Earth anytime we serve selflessly for the well-being of all, love our enemies and bless those that curse us. Jesus never said that greed, corruption or violence would cease. He showed us a way to respond to the suffering around us with compassion, healing and the wisdom that comes from Illumination. He taught us to be “in the world but not of it”. He was tortured and hung on a Tree by people with power and authority. His final words of forgiveness: “They do not know what they are doing” is a lament for us all. We do not have to live a constricted, fear-based life. We do not have to feel helpless in the face of irrational thoughts given for deceitful actions. We do not have to surrender to the fabrication of pseudoscience presented by corporations to scare us into justifying their actions. We do not have to run and hide from fear of litigation. We do not have to give our power away to those who would act out of greed and self- interest. We can be brave. We can be strong. We can overcome. 

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