The Formation Tree
told the following story at the second of eight formation retreats
sponsored by the DCCCD Staff and Organizational Development Office.
These retreats, modeled on the work of Parker Palmer, offer employees
an opportunity to engage in formation which Palmer defines as
"journeying, individually and in community, to our inner
selves, our hearts and souls, to identify our true selves and
our deep integrity." We meet from Friday morning to Sunday
afternoon every season for two years. The retreats are held near
the airport at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center
Be quiet and what?
look it in the eye until it looks back
I gotten myself into? The last poem our group studied had a statement
about "the right tree appeared before my eyes
up paper and pencil and headed outside. It is Sept. 15, 2002, and
I feel weird. America has been attacked
. Is Justin, my 17
year old son, safe?
I do not understand the last poem we read
As I start
adjusting to being outside and feeling better, I found a section
of trees that reminded me of my home in East Texas. I sat down in
front of one tree. I did attempt to be quiet, to find quietness,
to close my eyes and draw the tree. It just wasn't clicking, but
I continued to sit and attempt the assignment. "Maybe formation
isn't for me", I worried.
to the group and listened as my peers shared their tree stores.
I still am not connecting, but I am thinking about it. I will not
close my mind.
by and autumn arrives. I love fall
the colors are so vibrant.
Fall colors make me feel warm and put a smile on my face.
5, my daughter, Amy, who is 26 years old and married, calls to say
"Mom we're moving to Michigan as soon as we can find a house.
Kyle has been transferred!!!!!". My daughter and two-year-old
grandson are moving to the tundra. I can't believe it
handle it! They were to stay in Texas. FOREVER.
skills were not good, and on Saturday, October 13, I felt I needed
to go for a drive. I just started driving away from Mesquite, listening
to music, and feeling so sad.
Before I realized how far I had gone, I was twenty miles away in
Arlington on I-20, and I saw Loop 360. I veered to the right and
headed north. American Airlines Training and Conference Center appeared
on my left and I felt as though I was at a familiar place, a safe
place. I parked and found myself walking toward my tree. My tree
A solace. I sat by my tree
I tried to be quiet. I cried and
cried about Amy moving, life, and everything. A staff member named
Sam from the front desk came out to check on me. She was so kind
and considerate. She seemed to understand that I just needed to
sit beside my tree and cry. I felt better when I returned to Mesquite.
23, and my house is full of laughter and family. Amy and Ryan are
visiting-on their way to Michigan. Amy and I are having a great
time, but a hard time because we each know that time is passing
very fast. The next afternoon, Amy, Jason (my 26-year-old son),
Ryan and I decided to go for a drive. Amy said, "Momma, let's
go see some TEXAS!!" As Amy started the SUV, she made a comment
about how much my live oak tree had grown since I had planted it
two springs ago. When she said "tree," I knew where we
Jason and I went to meet my tree. The older children could not believe
this place existed in the Dallas Metro area. We parked, walked around
for about 15 minutes, listened to the planes fly above us. Ryan
was having a great time running and kicking his ball, watching the
planes. I led my children to "my tree." Amy and I sat
down by my tree. Jason continued to walk around and help Ryan. She
laughed so hard about my "first tree encounter" that we
had tears in our eyes. We each shared stories, love, and memories.
Jason joined us and talked, and talked and talked. Amy and I were
amazed at how he was opening up. It was a wonderful time among the
four of us. I took my children into the lodge so Amy could see a
few of the art pieces and the warmth that the facility exudes. Again,
the staff was so kind to us- supportive but not intrusive.
Amy calls to say so much. She is so homesick; the weather is so
cold. She is setting up a new house, raising a two-year-old, knows
no one. I tried to find words of warmth, praise and encouragement.
Innocently, I said "Amy, find yourself a tree. Make a tree
a friend like I have".
22, I was on the tundra. During my Christmas visit to her new home,
Amy took me to meet her tree. A beautiful blue-green spruce in Bay
City, Michigan, in her neighborhood. A perfect tree. She confessed
that the tree had really helped her feel not so alone and had encouraged
her to explore her new neighborhood.
morning, we are all having such a wonderful time watching Ryan discover
Santa. Amy handed me a small, beautifully-wrapped package after
a lot of the merriment had settled down. I pulled back the tissue
paper and there lay a silver tree charm for my bracelet. A pretty
tree with the branches shaped like hearts. I silently cried as I
handed Amy a small bag with the James Avery logo. She pulled out
the small box from the bag and opened it up. The Pax Christmas Tree
charm for her bracelet. I know we shared the same thought as we
looked each other in the eye, "how loving a TREE can be!"
Dallas County Community College District