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Updated: Jun 21, 2023

I stopped to look at a tree. I walk past it often, but this time it stretched out its branches like a warm embrace, and fluttered its shiny leaves like batted eyelashes. I swear I could hear its secrets when I paused to listen.

It is, perhaps, no wonder, I am drawn to trees. I am their namesake, after all. Ilan literally means "tree." It is a Hebrew name with roots in Tu B'Shevat, which in Jewish tradition marks the day trees come of age.

Have I come of age? Will I ever? Forever an old soul, I feel it is an ever-evolving process. Like most trees I stand tall, being me. My roots run deep; my branches strong. At times, I am a refuge. Like trees, my life is lived in seasons. There are times of rest and awakenings, dormancy and growth.

I was uprooted and replanted. I needed a new environment to survive. I embraced the stillness, but like a tree, I grow in two directions, rooting down and reaching upwards, simultaneously sinking into the earth, and shooting into the sky. I can now reach my full potential.

I can grow.

I believe we are tied to nature, and are a reflection of nature. We were part of the natural world for millions of years before we had the modern comforts we now enjoy. If we deny our connection, dismiss or ignore it, we will be reminded. It is part of us, in us, and all around us.

I see myself in birds with wings outstretched, soaring. I deeply feel both the fury and tranquility of the ocean. I can lose myself in the vastness of the sky. Life has an ebb and a flow. It is magical and tragic, harsh and delicate.

We are not all trees, but we each have a place in the world. We are perfectly placed pieces of the ecosystem. Together we strive, thrive and fourish.

We can grow.

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