The Wisdom of Trees

When it comes to sources of inspiration, no one is more generous than Mother Nature. Clues to major life lessons may be found in every direction—and, in particular, so much can be learned from trees. Their strength keeps them standing tall when smaller shrubs bend and snap in the wind, and their age points to infinite wisdom. We admire the way their branches reach for the heavens, while their roots descend deep into the earth, seemingly connecting them to the entire universe.

Undoubtedly, ancient trees have triumphed over tribulations. The tallest and strongest have recovered from great setbacks—and, if we’re able to listen, we can learn lessons invaluable to our own recovery.

Learning From The Branches

Beautiful branches are typically the first things we notice on a tree. But if you live in a place with seasons, you know that those branches don’t typically look the same year-round. Like us, they go through necessary phases of growth and rest. And when they’re ready, they soar into the sky, bearing boughs of spring blooms or fruit or decorative seed pods that catch the sunlight.

So many in recovery want to focus only on that light—on what is bright, and high, and spiritual. They turn their faces to the sun, away from the darkness, in the hopes that it will bring them closer to what illuminates and enlightens. However, it’s important to remember that light cannot exist without dark; the two must exist in tandem to create a balanced whole. In order to find our light, we must also respect and acknowledge the darkness that comes from the depths of the soul.

Learning From The Roots

Also like people, trees have a lot going on beneath the surface, that nobody else sees. A tree’s roots feed it vital nutrients from the earth, and create a sturdy base. Without a strong network of roots, we also become top-heavy and vulnerable to passing storms that can topple us.

If the branches are our spirit, then the roots are our soul; they connect heaven and earth, allowing us to embody elements of both. While we may wish to feel spirited and bright at all times, we must not ignore our souls. To be soulful (soul-full) is to embrace our earthiness—the messiness of our desires, the imperfections of our bodies, the tangle of emotions we keep in the dark, beneath the surface.

The wisdom of trees is not just that we can ascend and descend at the same time, reaching toward our higher selves while also diving to the depths of our humanity. It’s that truth growth cannot exist without both the light and the dark, the spirit and the soul.

I would love to hear what you think…what have you learned from the trees.



  • Thank you for this beautiful reminder, Anita. I love the idea that, like trees, we go through seasons. There are times when we’re full of colour and brightness, and there are times when we must let go of part of ourselves to allow for new growth and new beginnings.

  • So enlightening and inspiration Anita and exactly what I needed right now as I’m in a symptomatic period in my recovery that I’m finding discouraging. Sitting with the ‘darkness’ is what will bring eventual light. Both are necessary, so helpful thank you.

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