Once upon a time on a ranch in California I did a Vision Quest that lasted for 10 days. In my most troubled and devastated time of life, I went deep into the wilderness and found a spot under a gorgeous oak tree and made a home there. The stories that could be told about those few days are many, each of them sweet and strong. But the story I want to tell right now is the one that says how this tree that became my friend, shelter, mentor and the first non-human voice that spoke directly to me came to be named “Here.” A poem that I loved by David Wagoner called “Lost” kept going through my head.

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

That tree was “Here” for me. Even when I lost access to it because of shifting placements in life, it still spoke to me – in the voice of another tree that I did have free access to, which told me “I am Here.” And then it spoke in the voice of an important friend who told me, without knowing my history with this phrase, “I am here.”

Since these experiences with the tree I have thought many times that “Here” is what I aspire to be. I want to be as reliable and present and rooted and grounded and available as that tree. I want people to be able to experience “Here-ness” through me. There was an elm tree that helped raise me, and an oak tree that helped save me, now I want to be like them for others. Here. That is what I want to be.

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