exchanging air

Last night, just a turn beyond the summer solstice, westlinwind took me to her drumming circle. We stopped first at the 500 year old white oak on the property. The oak has a little plaque on it stating that the tree has been living here since before William Penn took possession of this part of Pennsylvania known as the Brandywine Valley. She is a magnificent oak with limbs sagging from their own weight, each one larger than most of the trees we live with today.

As I approached her, her massiveness grew as my gaze angled upward. Reaching out, I placed my hands on her rough skin, closed my eyes and immediately felt the weight of her history; a slow, low, rhythmic pounding ran through my body as we breathed each other in, making me feel dizzy and delighted.

Drumming in a circle of women is an amazing experience. Drumming under a 500 year old oak tree who has watched centuries of creatures pass by, consumed with their short lives, is something else again. I had the distinct feeling that other women have drummed under her, matching drumbeats to heartbeats to pounding sap, sharing secrets, exchanging air.

We stood under her as one told of her known past, a surveyor’s mark, the efforts of men to help support her heavy limbs with cables and prayers. We circled her, placing our hands on her, feeling her rhythm change from the slow pounding I felt alone to a faster rumble, taking in our human hearts.

Breathe …

“Penn Oak” at London Grove Meeting


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