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One Small Step

At the top of this magnificent, old Oak tree, branches lush with green ferns greeted my eyes. I looked down at the sub-tropical plants of Sarasota, Florida, admiring the beauty of my view. Epiphytes sprouting between limbs, broad leafed philodendrons below, and the leafy tops of palm trees made my heart sing with the heady joy of being up so high.

That was until Jim, one of the climbers who works with Archangel Ancient Tree Archive taking cuttings from old, champion trees for them to clone and plant in living tree libraries, told me the bad news.

From his comfortable perch on a nearby branch, Jim said, “You have to step off into mid-air to get down.”

I looked at the ground. My knees started to shake. “That‘s the only way?”

Jim nodded. “Yes.”

My hands clutched the rope so hard my fingers hurt.

“You can do it,” Jim encouraged kindly.

”Maybe I need helicopter rescue,” I said, only half-joking.

Jim smiled and directed, “First hold onto the rope and stand up straight.”

I did as he said, trembling a bit.

“When you‘re ready, move off the branch,“ directed Jim.

I willed myself to take that one small step into pure space.

Instead, I screamed. Loudly.

Everyone on the ground looked up. Linda, a lovely woman who’d climbed before me, had made it look easy. Watching her, I’d figured that if she could do it, of course I could do it too.

Now, here I was, stuck.

Linda stood beneath the tree and called up, “Just step out.”

Knowing there was no other choice, I took a deep breath and did it. Sliding down the rope, I made my exhilarating way to the ground.

“That was so much fun!” I exclaimed, hugging everyone joyfully. “Thank you for getting me up there.”

I felt lighter, freer, and clearer.

David Milarch, founder of AATA, asked me, “What healing did you receive from the tree?”

I said something about feeling the beauty and shelter of the Oak. Only later did I realize that the real healing I‘d received was the release of fear when I screamed. It wasn’t just the fear of heights I let go of, it was also some of the fear that keeps me living small so I don’t have to push my edges and feel it. Once again, my friends at Archangel Ancient Tree Archive helped me grow. They are very good at growing things!

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