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Marcescence


As Spring emerges, with new buds on trees, I marvel at the variety of expressions of new life. 


Beech trees have this interesting life cycle. In winter, they don't drop their leaves. It's quite beautiful really. On windy days, the leaves sound kind of like a piece of paper that is stuck, flapping in the force of the wind revealing an inner musical quality that's not there when resting simply on an undisturbed surface. 


The process of holding onto these leaves is called marcescence, which is the retention of the dead organ of the plant or tree.


One hypothesis for this is that when snow falls, these dead leaves are able to capture additional water, which is especially helpful in areas where it is more dry. 


This emergence of the new leaf bud as it visibly sheds away the old layer reminds me of the spiritual process of continual rebirth and renewal. We are always in the process of shedding an old Self as a new Self emerges. Most of the time this goes unnoticed to our waking selves. 


Spiritual practice sensitizes our awareness to this process of growing, even when it is uncomfortable. 

 

I wonder what the trees have to say about this...


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