Joseph Anderson

Tree Calendar: Serviceberry

The serviceberry tree is the Spring Equinox tree in my personal tree calendar. We have a fine specimen in our front yard; it always blooms right around the equinox, though its flowers only remain for a few days. My chant for this tree is “teach me to blossom like you do”. I don’t think the message there is “only for a few days” but rather “all the time, year round, as is appropriate to the season.” Serviceberry does not hang on to one particular form of manifestation. I can get very caught up in my latest crystallized idea of what I should be doing or what the universe will bring to me or through me. No sooner do I settle in to that fixed notion then life is already morphing into something else.

In Seattle we’re moving into the heart of spring; plums and cherries have led the way and there are many more to come. Flowers are beautiful, perfect, amazing. But it’s good be aware that it’s our human habit to clings to some forms and subtly privilege them over others. A blooming flower can be seen as a culmination, but also as part of a process, each phase leading naturally to the next. Flower-pollen-fruit-seed-new growth-decay; the cycle doesn’t stop anywhere. The blossom is part of a deep journey of becoming, that is as real and important in the withering as in the blooming.

The bloom is a gift not to be disregarded – I open my heart to its beauty and it feeds me in my depths. We need that beauty in order to find courage for the path. But it does not stay still – that is not its function. If we cling to it, we are stuck on its surfaces.

Flowers are like the “letters from God” in Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself:

I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one of them is signed by God’s name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that whereso’e’er I go
Others will come punctually for ever and ever.

The flowers of this season contain their own beauty, but they also point to the continuous burgeoning stream of blessing. Maybe that’s why they’re called “flow-ers”.