Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

I love trees.   Love them in ways I can’t explain.

I wear a tree around my neck—a Joshua Tree—which I think of as my anchor, and hold on to it often, a calming touchstone. I’ve got tree art hanging in various places around my house.  I’ve even got one tattooed on my back, for heaven’s sake.

There are a few hearty trees in my back yard (which is a gift that I never take for granted, ever) and I just can’t get over how beautiful they are. Have you ever stopped to notice just how remarkable trees truly are? They are stunning. Strong and majestic. They take my breath away.

I’m looking at one right now, as a powerful rumbling thunder, like some kind of low growl, rolls across the sky and a summer storm makes its way to me. The tree’s branches and leaves are dancing—dancing—as the sky gets darker and darker… fearless, and fierce.

Marlowe and Dylan both love to climb in one of our trees—Mar has been known to be found reading in the branches, nestled safely and as content as they come, losing all sense of time. The tree is a playground, a resting place, and ultimately a home.

One of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver is called “The Summer Day,” and in it, she says:

I don't know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

So often we speed through life without paying attention. We are so busy getting through this to-do and that meeting and these obligations that we miss what’s most important. We don’t notice what is right in front of us. We don’t look up.

Trees remind me to look up. They are like a prayer to me—centering me, grounding me, opening my heart, and reminding me that this one wild and precious life is remarkable indeed.

How can you look up today? What you find might truly be majestic.

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.