“Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush aflame with God. But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
While it may look like there are individual trees in the picture above, quaking aspens grow in colonies of tens of thousands of trees, or stems, which are all connected by a single root system. Often referred to as “trembling giants,” quaking aspens derive their name from the peculiar fluttering of their leaves in the wind. Each of the stems are clones of each other, meaning they share the same genetic makeup. A little known fact, the largest living organism on earth is the quaking aspen “clonal colony” in Utah. Known as the Pando Aspen grove, amazingly it is all ONE tree. This grove consists of approximately 47,000 interconnected stems that cover an area of 170 acres. It is also considered the oldest living organism, with the root system dating back an unbelievable 80,000 years. While the individual stems only live around 50 years on average above ground, their longevity is owing to the root system that sprouts new shoots to replace dying stems. Quaking aspens are the most widespread tree species in North America, growing from northern Canada and Alaska to central Mexico.
While nature offers the most profound portals into God’s deepest secrets, the digital age comes a close second in providing apt parallels to the intimate relationship between the visible and invisible whole of creation. The interconnecting root systems of quaking apens out-picture the foundation of the unseen world that manifests as the simulated (virtual) reality we call space-time. Like the voltage and circuits that lay behind our desk-top icons, a vibrant living complexity (software) resides beneath the interface of things which is an infinite storehouse of information and “technical” support. Similarly inter-contextual at their foundation, all created things share the same spiritual DNA. Silently animated, supported and renewed by their invisible “root system” (or Spirit), all things only appear separate to the pedestrian eye unable to see past appearances.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will be able to understand everything better.” ~ (Albert Einstein)
In physics, the word entanglement is used to describe the connectivity and interdependence of all things in the physical world. In spiritualiy, the term oneness is used to describe that same organic unity in the psycho-spiritual world. Above ground, all quaking aspens appear singular and distinctive, but they all stem from the same interlocking root system as their life-giving origin and support. Likewise, the apparent difference between psyche and spirit, or science and spirituality is no difference at all, because the same laws and energies are at work seamlessly connecting both outer and inner worlds to each other at all scales — as above so below; as without, so within.
Rightly synthesized, such is the essential task of all science and religion, to help awaken and reconnect people to their original identity embedded in the divine ground. The barriers to same are perceptual and mental, which conspire to divide the unified field creating a false belief in two realities — God and creation, spirit and matter, sacred and secular, science and religion, psyche and spirit.
“In the beginning God . . .” (Gen. 1:1) implies that at base ALL is the substance of God, “in whom all things consist and are held together” and who “fills all things” (Col. 1:17, 2:10). Of necessity, and to the chagrin of many religionists, this invites science into the conversation. There is only ONE reality known by different names, God appearing as . . . (you name the person, place or thing).
“The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” ~ (Deuteronomy 33:27)
This means that in the reality that lies behind all created (simulated) appearances, there are not three siloed cultures of knowledge commonly regarded as science, religion, and art. Such segmentation is the result of mindcraft uninformed by spiritual (or unitive) consciousness. In reality, each is a thread plucked from a unified tapestry connected by an infinitely complex and entangled “root system” joining them all behind the scenes without distinction. All of life is interrelated beneath the visible interface and its siloed appearing icons we call creation or space-time. Everything that God generates is in some way offspring or family, particularly if the substance that God creates consists of the same energy or DNA. The connectivity at the core of interbeing dissolves the mind’s optical illusion of dualisms and separations. Matter and spirit have never been separate, but are one.
“You came down into me by some tiny scrap of created reality: and then, suddenly unfurled your immensity before my eyes and displayed yourself to me as universal being . . . an ultimate element in which all things find their definitive consistency.” ~ (Teilhard de Chardin)
Because today’s fragmented world has no overarching story that unites and instills hope, or offers a glimpse of what the future holds, new instructional resources are required to further the kind of consciousness that can perceive in wholes. To attain that goal, educational and religious agendas require radical updating to form an all-inclusive creation myth (synthesis) that is science based, spiritually informed, and future looking. This all-inclusive synthesis must take its primary cue from the natural world, because divinity communicates to us primarily through it, our first primer and bible.
“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” ~ (Romans 1:20)
As significant symbols of community, the communal root system of quaking aspens allows them to be connected and in support of each other. Similar to human communities, aspens are vulnerable in spots and prone to various diseases. Possibly the weakest tree in the forest, aspens are nonetheless a survival species, bending with strong winds, showing great strength and resilience. In forest fires, aspens are the last to burn and the first to replenish and repopulate. Arborists tell us that if all trees are the same, they are more susceptible to disease. As in human communities, quaking aspens are the healthiest when their own groves (communities) are diverse.
At root, nothing stands alone. Everything and everyone is organically connected at the quantum (spirit) level and beyond. And that, without choice. This also means that within humans there can be no self-hood apart from God. There can only be a subjective belief (illusion) of a self-hood apart from God, whose immanent presence is opaque to the spiritually unawakened. And yet, faithful to its own, divine presence is forever on standby offering a hopeful, higher-order perspective. That perspective reveals a hidden dynamic currently evolving in human consciousness, more flow than fixed. The age of nations (ethnicity) and sectarian religions have passed. In effect, we are all simply terrestrians, spiritual beings having a human experience in space-time invited to awaken to our roots in a vast and fathomless “underground” matrix.
” . . . this is my body (Matt. 26:26)
A new universe story is emerging in which all fields of knowledge are converging. The global shift necessary to survive the crises humanity has created depends on a deep inner change in the direction of a unitive consciousness that sees and thinks inclusively across disciplines and religions. With a sacred sense of the presence of Spirit in nature, mystics and indigenous populations worldwide have known this for centuries, warning others of the consequences inherent in overlooking or abusing same.
“Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is like a shadow from that one.” ~ Black Elk
Lastly, the most amazing quality of aspens is the way their brilliantly colored leaves flutter, making a calm whispering sound, almost difficult to hear. Some say it is their spirit, a voice from the beyond. While the whole of mankind speaks in prose, nature speaks in poetry and soft whispers, audible only to the attuned. Are you listening?
Because their communal root system allows them to organically connect and support each other, quaking aspens are considered immortal.
For profound lessons in inclusivity, healing, wholeness (holiness), and immortality, consider hearkening to the poetry and soft whispers of nature this new year.