I’m going to remember this.

It all started with Thursday’s post, Lightly Child, Lightly. Where Cole Arthur Riley writes: “Have you ever stood in the presence of a tree and listened to the wind pass through its leaves? The roots and body stand defiant and unmoved. But listen. The branches stretch out their tongues and whisper shhhhh. Trees make symphonies without their trunks ever moving, almost as if the stillness of their centers amplifies their sound.” 

This post triggered a number of comments.

Beth, a school teacher, teaches me what that sound is: “I so love it too and there is a word for it: psithurism. These sounds of wind in the trees and the rustling of leaves have enchanted so many people over time that they invented a word to describe them: psithurism. Like many words that begin with “ps,” the “p” at the beginning of psithurism is silent, and the word is pronounced sith-err-iz-um.

Lori, follows by sharing: “I, too, am mesmerized by this sound (and now know what to call it…thank you, Beth!) This passage brought to mind Suzanne Simard’s book, ‘Finding the Mother Tree.’ So much happening below the surface

Mimi then shares: “The symphony of sound from the trees, sounds that change with the type of leaf that is singing – another gift from Mother Nature. The differences can be subtle, and demand your attention if you’re fortunate enough to stop and listen. Beth taught us both something today – never heard of the word, and I love the way it sounds – its pronunciation is perfect for its definition!”

Caitlin, here next door in NY State, furthers my education.  “My favorite sound — wind through pine trees — happy memories of Northern Ontario summer camp…The verb for the sound is soughing.”  I had to google it. A Verb: soughing (of the wind in trees, the sea, etc.) make a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound. ‘the soughing of the wind in the canopy of branches’.

Kevin, in Concord, CA, “likes sitting under an overhang and listening to rain (and wind) hitting the various leaves in my back garden. We also have a hammock for sitting between trees and watching the leaves rustle in the wind.”

Doug’s favorite soothing sound “is the sound of water in a stream burbling over rocks” and he wonders “if there is a specific word for that sound, too.”

Anneli has “stood under black cottonwoods in Montana and made a little video of the leaves whispering very loudly as the wind passed through the trees. A memorable experience.

Dale, once again, dropping 10-letter words requiring me to wear a dictionary on my hip to decipher: “I often stand amongst the trees and love the sound. Psithurism from marcescent leaves, particularly. Those leaves, usually oak, that remain on the trees in the winter have a particular sound.”

And for me, I’m with all of you.  Wind through the trees, branches, leaves. Listening to rain. Sitting in hammocks. Stream burbling over rocks.

And yet, there’s one other sound of notable mention. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning

My spirituality has always been given to contemplation, even before anyone articulated for me exactly what “the contemplative” was. I was not raised in an overtly religious home; my spiritual formation now comes to me in memories—not creeds or doctrine, but the air we breathed, stories, myth, and a kind of attentiveness. From a young age, my siblings and I were allowed to travel deep into our interior worlds to become aware of ourselves, our loves, our beliefs. And still, my father demanded an unflinching awareness of our exterior worlds. Where is home from here? What was the waitress’s name? Where do we look when we’re walking? If a single phrase could be considered the mantra of our family, it would be Pay attention.

—  Cole Arthur Riley, This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us (Convergent Books, February 22, 2022)

 

Lightly Child, Lightly

I have a favorite sound.

To be precise, it’s not a singular sound but a multitude.

Have you ever stood in the presence of a tree and listened to the wind pass through its leaves? The roots and body stand defiant and unmoved. But listen. The branches stretch out their tongues and whisper shhhhh.

Trees make symphonies without their trunks ever moving, almost as if the stillness of their centers amplifies their sound. The tree may appear still, but if you look closer, you’ll see that each leaf flails with breath. The tree may seem alone, but plow deep and you’ll unearth its secret gnarled roots—the grotesque and the beautiful—creeping in the soil, reaching toward the ancestors.

Thomas Merton said, “No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.” I hold this close.


Notes:

  • Photo:  DK @ Daybreak 6:54 am August 29, 2021.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
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