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An Unlabelled Conversation

Based on the teachings of organic psychology - Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Ph.D., Ed.D.  Notes from a spring class...


by Sherri A. Phibbs

September 20, 2017


Asking permission of the large long-needled pine grove, I feel the simple pull of approval and step closer.  A whisper across my mind seems to invite me in deeper.  

"Come into the center." the soulful essence of the trees beckon wordlessly.  

Stepping over the two-foot high budding branches of a small aspen grove, I move into the embrace of the pine trees.  Despite the last twenty-four hours of steady rain, I notice the grasses and shed needles are soft and dry here.  

"We protect you." breathe the trees.  

"Thank you." says I.


I feel secure from predatory eyes. So, I relax into the space. Wide-spreading branches arch upwards over my head and around the sides, interlocking together to form a small arbor sized just right to hold me.  The thought appears...this would be a good place to put a bench.  As I think on and release this, I am first drawn to one old large tree, a grandfather tree, and I ask, "Who are you if I do not label you?", and wait.

The wind moves through the bows softly, gently, and I smell the wetness of the 'just after rain'.  I see the pollen heads waiting to disperse, the rusty-ripeness-colour smudged against a pallet of greens.  Stretching out with my senses to connect with the experience of the tree, I begin to feel rooted in my feet, I sway in concert with the branches as the wind gently strokes the dampened needles high above me.  The sound of the air surrounds us and we just are, together.

"I am the wind-dancing pollen releaser, the breath maker." comes the answer, as I struggle to put what I sense into words.  

"And who am I without my labels?" I ask.

A stillness descends, as though the space is deep in consideration.  I am drawn to turn and look at the tree to my left.  Lichen covers the trunk and the branches, extending high into the overhead shelter.  I know this lichen takes a long time to grow.  I think about the insects in the boughs, and listen to the breeze move the needles together like a lullaby, the songs of the nesting birds in the trees further out a delightful counterpoint.

I hear a car approaching and turn again to my left to face the distant roadway.  Must hurry.  A sense of urgency to come to an answer moves out from me, and I am drawn to turn to my left again.  Almost full circle to where I entered, I ask again.

"Who am I without my labels?" and I look out from the bower and see, the wood container gardens, the landscaping ties, the wood built house in the distance.  I am overwhelmed with sadness and then my shoulders droop.  Looking at the fallen soldiers, brethren of the trees holding me so carefully, I grieve.  Yet even before the thought of tree-slayer tries to settle firmly in my mind, the trees seem to whisper...

"We grow quickly.  To protect you."  And I breathe deeply the scent of the pines.  The idea that “...nature contains intelligent love...”, indicated in this chapter, is strongly felt during this experience.  No judgment is made by nature, no need to harbour debilitating guilt on my part.  Just a healthy go-forward-doing-your-best-in-the-moment feeling. 

"Thank you."  says I.  And even though it is a somber person leaving the grove, I feel unconditional love.  They, the trees, just are.  They do their job to protect me, providing comfort in a sheltered place.  I determine to do my best to return the favour.


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