Is something sacred because we, or others, hold it sacred?  Or is something sacred because it IS?


Knowing as I do that there are multitudes of answers to this question, I can still be bashful about acting on my answer in public.


Two weeks ago at my living community, several events marked the beginning of what will be a long process of structural renewal.  A particular event struck me with a call to be a witness to a death—on that day, the death of a blue spruce, a landscape tree that had grown up as our community had and which sheltered birds and shaded our summer farm market table and eased the eyes of travelers, visitors, and residents over the years.  The coming changes required that this tree be cut down and all trace of its structure removed: it was in the way.


Early on that rainy blustery morning, I donned my black rain pants and rain coat over layers of warm clothing, latched all my Velcro, and went up to the tree to be a witness.  I stood in silence, observant of every event and step of the removal of this tree.  People passed by, merely glancing at me on their way.  The work crew recognized me and assured themselves I was OK and standing at a safe distance, and they kept on their task.  Few people understood what my standing there meant.


And so I stood in silent attention to the passing of every bit of that tree’s solid being and every scrap of its material familiar self, even the last three cones which I gathered to take with me to my space elsewhere in this community. I watched the scudding clouds overhead, where the breath of wind and breath of tree mingled, inseparable.  I watched the machinery and human laboring that pulled every root out of the earth where living ground and living tree had been interwoven.


After three hours of silent watchful standing (and shivering), I ended my witness, aware that the tree’s being had been scattered, released, and was no longer here.  The short moments where my life and attention had beheld that tree were now over.  I had honored it the only way I know: by giving my presence.  For that morning, I was in sacred space.
— Carol Bosworth