Breathe in the out breath from the trees
Breathe out exhale and the trees will breathe
Realize all rivers flow to the sea
We inter-are with the trees, when we breathe they breathe.
Gazing at the beautiful curling branches and rich canopies of leaves on the ancient Michigan oaks that I know and love, I am called to look deeply at the whole of the trees. I imagine the roots reaching below ground, weaving and spiraling through the earth just as the branches reach up and out into the open sky. Even though I cannot see them I know that the roots are there, keeping the tree tall and strong, creating an unseen dimension to the trees that are my friends and teachers.
The trees remind me that we too have extensive root systems, invisible connections to our life’s source that sustain our spiritual and emotional selves. These roots for me are found in prayer and meditation, in community, family, and in music. These roots nourish my mind and body and keep pushing me to grow and stretch my branches higher. I know that each of us is connected to life-sustaining roots and I am humbled to remember that all people are much deeper and expansive than only our physical appearances. This is especially challenging to remember in our celebrity culture that is so obsessed and focused on superficial aesthetics.
All of these roots begin as seeds and continue to deepen over time through cultivation and direction from the larger forest ecosystem. How are these seeds nourished? It is my hope that the music I make can help water positive seeds, encouraging deep roots in joy, peace, and love for children, families, and communities throughout our society.
This is why I am honored and excited that my music has been included in a new book by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community about sharing mindfulness with children called Planting Seeds. The book contains an accompanying music CD that includes two of my songs, Little Tomato and I Love Nature.
I have really been enjoying the stories and practices in Planting Seeds and am eager to share it with others. I will be selling copies of the book at upcoming performances and you can also order copies through Parallax Press at www.parallax.org
I am also excited to continue to spread the word about my latest album, Let’s Go Outside. I love to share with people the music and the lyric booklet with suggested activities for kids of all ages. Along with several active and high energy tunes, the album concludes with two “calming down” songs to help kids (and grown-ups) relax and sleep well. I will of course be selling these CDs at all of my upcoming performances and you can also order CDs at www.cdbaby.com/joereilly7
Let’s Go Outside is also available locally at the Leslie Science and Nature Center, Crazy Wisdom Book Store, and Learning Express Toy Store in Ann Arbor, and in Detroit at Still Point Zen Buddhist Temple.
When we feel doubt, fear, despair, or anger, let us look to our deep roots for sustenance and nourishment, guidance, and growth. It is time to restore health, vitality, and diversity to our forest ecosystem, so that we may leave behind a rich compost for the new seedlings.
Yours in the Forest,