Joseph Anderson

Tree Calendar: Rhododendron

In my personal tree calendar the tree for the season between the Spring Equinox and May Day is the rhododendron. My chant to the rhododendron is “teach me to walk in beauty.”

We have several rhododendron plants in front of our house, and one of them just exploded into blooms in the last few days. The others are waiting their turn and will be sharing their beauty over the next several weeks. These bushes are taller than me by a couple of feet and put out their blooms with unapologetic extravagance. All the plants are being themselves; but with Rhododendron it is hard to ignore their showy self-expression. What would it mean for me to be so unselfconscious? (Would I write this post differently, ba-da-boop-bop-ba-dop?)

“I will be myself” is a mantra that keeps coming up for me (I wrote about it a couple of days ago for Aries New Moon, and also for the Cedar tree calendar post a couple of weeks ago). Really it’s the core of my metaphysical outlook, drawing on my teachers from Jesus (“the kingdom of Heaven is within you”), to Buddha and his teachings on the perfection of original mind, to Ralph Waldo Emerson – and most emphatically to the shamanic work I do, where inner wisdom, inner insight and inspiration is the key to everything. You just have to trust yourself and what comes to you through the potency of your imagination on this path. There is nothing else to do.

So what does it mean for me to walk in beauty as myself? I’ve been enjoying watching Victoria develop material for her class on the Spirit of Japanese Beauty and Design; the teaching there is profound and relevant. The Japanese approach to beauty (and I’m going to radically oversimplify here) is a blending of paying attention to the “suchness” of the present moment, and a refined, self-conscious application of technique at a very sophisticated level.

In this context “being oneself” means a delicate dance between unselfconscious immersion in the present moment, and the skill and training to effectively manage the complexities of that moment. Although it may seem naïve, it is in fact anything but. Walking in beauty takes skill: that’s something I’m learning about blogging several times a week, working on art and music projects, running a healing practice, juggling my day job, getting ready for our three-week trip to Japan in mid-May, and so on.

So on this day I call on Rhododendron: teach me indeed to walk in beauty, as you do without effort or struggle, but simply by manifesting the depths of your nature.