Teaching from the Trees: Seeking Wisdom

Close to Charleston, on Johns Island, sits the Angel Oak. The Angel Oak is hundreds of years old (some estimates even say it is over 1000 years old) and used to be nestled in the heart of a thick forest. Now, it sits in Angel Oak Forest and is free for anyone to visit. It is believed to be the oldest living tree east of the Mississippi. When I first visited it, there was a reverence and sacredness among its branches. And you really are among the tree because it’s octopus-like branches reach out rather than up almost as if it is offering visitors a hug and respite.

As the world changes so rapidly around us, I find myself among the trees more often. There is something humbling and awe-inspiring about sitting beneath the branches of a living tree that has been around longer than I have and will outlast my life by hundreds of years. You can hear the wisdom in the wind moving through the branches, inviting you to look up and notice things new currents and new weather systems moving in. You can hear it in the wisdom of rooting down and growing deep in the soil. You can hear it in the wisdom to offer hospitality as it spreads its branches to offer homes to the squirrels and birds.

There is wisdom among the trees, especially trees like the Angel Oak who have weathered storms much longer than any one of us have. The question is will we sit in their shelter and listen to their wisdom?