CJ McPhee

Explore the Whole You


Lessons from a Weeping Dogwood Tree

Lessons from a Weeping Dogwood Tree

A few springs ago, my husband and I decided to transform our backyard from a mossy lawn bordered by a weed pit into a zen pathway bordered with local plants.  In the middle of the backyard grew a glorious weeping dogwood tree.  The landscaper suggested removing it so that the weed pit next to it could be replaced with a pretty new ground cover.  I agreed in realization that it would be difficult to work around it.  I watched the tree over the few weeks between making the decision and starting the project. I marveled at the vibrant life radiating from it even though it would soon be cut down.  New branches were forming colored with the freshest spring green.  It’s unique sideways sloping trunk carried new leaves and old leaves across the lawn as if it were a giant bouquet of flowers.  I observed with envy.  At the time and still today, my inner knowing was asking me to go within, get quiet, step away from projects, ground myself, dare to forge my own path. I didn’t want to listen.  There were things in the world I felt were there for me to do, yet my body was showing signs of breakdown that only a period of rejuvenation could mend.  So I watched the example before me and the writing came.

And I am learning to:

honor the need for space, quiet, and childlike self-reflection

(You may listen to this poem in the video section)

ODE TO A WEEPING DOGWOOD                 9 March 2015

7.15 min


Completely oblivious to your impending death,


a death I have ordered….


You thrive. Oh, how you thrive.


Unaware without a care of your forthcoming slaughter,


A finish I have chosen….


You shine. Big and bright you shine.


How can it be that a helpless weeping dogwood tree,


so close to the end, can so elegantly suspend…




With spring in the air, green grass as your lair,


the imminent massacre approaching,


I marvel this carefree attitude…


you exude.



Your magnificent central trunk,


a main artery that will soon be severed,


it grows not vertically like the other trees


but rather sideways.


It stretches sideways along


the Earth’s sensual slope.


You lay there like a Goddess


who fully knows her strength,


bare naked, curvaceous and comfortable in her skin,


Nothing to prove, only to be.


Nothing to prove, only to be.


To be, to be your gorgeous glorious self


Continuing to grow and expand.


Claiming the land with your roots.


Gracing the land with your physical form,


even in the face of your soon-to-be death.



Rather than shriveling up in despair,


you put forth many new extensions of yourself,


as hundreds of tender branches,


reaching upwards from your core.


Upwards in search of the light.

In their youth, these new branches,


hopelessly in love with the sun.


Hopelessly in love with the sun.


The sun, your warm lover….


One of many who willingly serves you.


Your feminine tree-flesh responding to his touch


as fresh green leaf buds

bursting into life,


bursting into life,


bursting into life at such a time as this.


Oh, how you thrive. You thrive. I admire your thrive.



I would keep you,


hold you close to my heart,


oh weeping beautifully, dogwood tree.


I would keep you


in another place,


a bigger space.


Yes, a nature haven on the edge of an open field


where wildflowers grow and my dog can go,


without his keeper.


From my home on the lazy hillside,


I would happily walk each day to you,


deliberately march towards the valley by the creek.


Mother Earth’s gravity easing my way downward,


arms swinging, smile on my face,


feeling young, hopelessly in love with the sun.


Feeling young, hopelessly in love with the sun.


Claiming him as my own warm lover,


knowing my strength,


feeling fresh and alive with inspirations

bursting into life!


Bursting into life!


Oh how I would thrive as you thrive.



At arrival, kicking off my boots,


shedding my skirt and blouse,


I would lay my body out as you,


along the Earth’s sensual slope.


Utterly unaffected by the outside world,


A fast moving world full of plans and improvements,


I would cherish you as a valued confidant.


A friend who appreciates my deep need


for sacred quiet moments.


You, my soul mate, reflecting to me the importance of seasons,


and the rhythm of natural order,


together we would honor each other in day and night,


light and dark,


in harvest and hibernation,


in sadness and celebration.

Oh how I would thrive and shine in such a place,


a wide open space,


Where wildflowers grow and my dog can go


without his keeper.


And I with you, resting and thriving in the valley,


there would be no need to cut you,

to tame your wildness or stifle spontaneous growth,


in such a place,


a bigger space,

a nature haven on the edge of an open field.


Only the babbling creek


Whispering sweet nothings into our ears,


And I can finally hear… the easy in and out of my breath.


This entry was posted on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 at 7:51 pm and is filed under Elaborating on Insights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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