The Magic Tree
Welcome to the 17th annual Magic Tree. Thanks again to The Village of Cherry Hill and The Cherry Hill Business Association for hosting the Magic Tree. The Village of Cherry Hill hosts The Magic Tree for the sole purpose of continuing the gift of holiday cheer that the annual lighting of the Magic Tree brings to the surrounding community. The opinions expressed in this flier and on the Magic Tree website (www.magic-tree.org) are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect those of The Village of Cherry Hill, or any of its residents, businesses, or customers. Will Treelighter
This year’s tree has a few less lights than last year’s in order to lighten the load on the wiry branches of this variety of cherry tree. The tree is visibly a bit less weighed down I think. It has about 12,000 incandescent mini-lights, 13’500 monochromatic LED lights and 9500 color changing LED lights for a total of approximately 35,000 individual lights with nearly two thirds of them LEDs. It took some 40 hours of installing the lights and will take 20 hours or so to de-light in the early spring. That is not counting the time spent bundling and putting the lights away, testing them and sorting the lights when I get them back out again!
The work involved in lighting the Magic Tree, while at times is tedious, seems worth every minute and the energy it uses a small price to pay for the smiles and energy I see in the faces illuminated by its many colored lights. Redoing it each year gives me a chance to change the color combinations with emphasis on different hues from season to season keeping the presentation fresh and interesting. This year I used most all the purple and pink lights I had plus some white wire blue which look more teal than the green wire blue. The color changing lights add green, gold, blue, red and white to the mix in alternating varying hues.
Another thing that makes the lighting of the tree worth while to me is the opportunity it gives me to present some ideas to you that I have been thinking about. Since 2004 I have provided a flier that makes an attempt to bring into focus what the light of the Magic Tree to me represents. I have compiled these fliers along with some of my photographs over the years and a brief history of the Magic Tree in a new book called The Magic Tree, Book One: Inspiration. You can find it for sale right here at Cherry Hill at Focus on Health Chiropractic Center located in the Merchant Street Building. It’s also for sale at The University Book Store in Brady Commons, Unity of Columbia Book Store at 1600 W. Broadway, Get Lost Books on 9th St., Shakespeare’s also on 9th St. and Orchids and Art by the South Providence Jimmy Johns.
Also, across the street from the Magic Tree in DeSpain’s window you’ll find an ongoing slideshow presentation by Digital Impressions (a new division of MacXperts) featuring an even briefer history of the Magic Tree and inspirational words and photos of the Magic Trees of the past and their surroundings. Thanks to Digital Impressions for putting that together and thanks as well to the sponsors of the show.
The Magic Tree is a window of its own of sorts. If you make a concerted effort to be quiet within as you view the tree you may find that a contemplative window opens up within you. Looking through the light streaming within, your empty cup is filled and you come away refreshed. This sort of quiet inward attentiveness is of course not unique to quiet contemplation of the Magic Tree but is possible at any time you take yourself in hand and practice it. A beautiful spectacle (a signature of love) can be an asset but the real help comes from within you as you place yourself with the deft hand of the mind’s attentive eye at the Center of All Love. So all pervading is this center that it is at the center of each and every thing including you.
What if I told you that by your own simple action you could actually bring Heaven a little closer to Earth. Well, not so much bring it, as realize that it is right here “at hand”, so to speak. Would you take the required action or would you set it aside for a later time, perhaps… when life is less hectic?! What if I told you that Heaven comes to you by Grace, that it is free for the asking, that there is nothing you need do? Would you stop and ask yourself how can this be so and if there is nothing that I need to do why is it that ‘Heaven at hand’ is not more self-evident to me? Might you add…and why is it that the world around me appears to be in such dire need of such grace?
We are suspended on a horizontal bar called time-space that contains all that we know – our bodies, our feelings, our thoughts, all our material possessions, all our needs, our hopes, our dreams, all our world. We walk and run about on it like on a treadmill, like a lab rat scurrying about in a maze pushing buttons that give a pellet of food, or that give nothing in return for the effort. We constantly seek satisfaction and happiness by any means available: entertainment, work, play, good food, junk food, drink, revenge; sensate activity such as love-making or striking out in anger; shopping for deals, the accumulation of things; fame and fortune; religion, politics and the economics of investment and business and on and on and on. This time of year in particular the frenzy quickens to an exhausting pace that is fed by retailers competing for our dollars. Year by year the ante is raised in expectations of hot deals and cool gadgets feeding our basest sense of greed at a time supposedly set aside for sharing and giving in honor of the gift of life from the One Source.
In all this activity we are lost to what is so close to us that it is within us, but we cannot see it. Our preoccupation with the matter of quenching our desire for material, emotional and even intellectual satisfaction keeps our noses smelling out the next sensation and our eyes are kept down on our hands and feet as we crawl through the maze not realizing that if we just stood up we could see over the short little walls and realize that the labyrinth of passages goes on and on in all directions with no end. At this we might despair except that upon standing still where we are we align ourselves with a formerly unseen and unrealized dimension that passes vertically through the horizontal bar or plane that we are on. Inexplicably, the vertical bar is passing directly through the horizontal one exactly where we are right now and as we stand still in this dimension an awareness dawns on us that recognizes intrinsic goodness, love and beauty in the midst of whatever is about us on the horizontal plane of our existence. There is a realization of peace and well-being in spite of what trouble and pain may be hounding us at that time and space. Suddenly we are aware that we have been visited by Grace. Heaven has come to us and goodness and mercy follow us. Now we are in a unique position to share it with those about us by encouraging them to stand up still and know it for themselves.
There are many, however, who are so steeped in and weighed down with trouble and want that they cannot get up. This is where we can be so helpful. We come to know that what it is we ultimately seek (the satisfaction of love, goodness, beautiful environs, peace of mind – heaven) comes to us by grace – that there is nothing we can do to earn it or achieve it, all we must do is stand still where we are right now in this amazing world and it comes to us freely filling secret wings with the Aeolian winds of spiritual awareness that open up untold worlds of heavenly understanding and sight. Once we know this we are set free from our own petty desires and can serve to fill the needs of others until they as well may stand up still. This is how Heaven may be brought to Earth.
Grace is free to all. All that is required of you is to set aside your preoccupation with running the maze and pushing the endless buttons trying to get satisfaction by any other means. Standing up still means sitting down in meditation and/or prayer, being still in body, mind and emotion so that you can hear the One Source, Grace, knocking on your door, speaking to your heart. This is not so easy a task. Though it involves basically doing little, it is perhaps, the most significant, life changing thing that can ever be accomplished by anyone.
Our “fall from grace” came by the desire to know the difference between good and evil. To know this difference requires us to muck around in it and strive to make sense of it and forge our way through it until we are hopelessly lost in its labyrinthian dichotomy. All this forging through has made us accustomed to being constantly active particularly in mind and emotion so that stillness in these faculties seems foreign, even impossible. It therefore requires concentration and due diligence to be still in heart and mind for even a few seconds. A habit, then, of practicing this stillness is the key for becoming adept at “standing” in Grace in the midst of pain, grief and criticism, or for that matter, happiness, joy and bliss – for attachment to any of it, as though it were the source of our good, causes us to fall again onto our hands and knees and go back to crawling about looking for another joy button that will dispense some momentary pleasure for a price.
Grace is free to all. As we practice ‘standing still’ in meditation, using our controlled physical body, mind and emotional planes of awareness as platforms to stand upon, we access a virgin form of awareness (one that is free from the idea that love and happiness come from things, emotions and thoughts that we don’t have and must acquire). In that virgin heart of awareness a babe of pure and unconditional love is born out. Shepherds of thought and emotion watch carefully and guard against the ravenous wolves such as those of fear and resentment so as not to disturb the tranquil babe that lies in a feeding trough formerly reserved for the animals of emotional reactivity and low level anxious or aggravated short sighted thought; animals that now lay calm and peaceful nearby. There is no room in the inn for it is filled with people bustling and jostling in weary counting for “taxes” to be paid to the dichotomy of good and evil. Joseph, the meditator, found space, none-the-less, in the lowly stable of contemplation that until moments ago was used to house lesser thoughts and feelings than his virgin awareness and babe of unconditional pure love. Three kings then visit, having seen the starlight of pure love, bearing their gifts; one of will, another of spiritualized understanding and a third of spiritual creative intelligence. A brilliant star shines above and a heavenly peace falls over all the land.
Grace is free to all. By standing in the vertical pistil of spiritual stillness within, a cross is formed with the horizontal labyrinth of space-time life. There we are suspended, as Christ through Jesus revealed in His example, until we die to trying to satisfy ourselves with material, emotional and mental things. When we seek only what Spirit has to offer, the self inflicted suffering perpetrated by the whippings of emotional swings, the nails of insatiable desire and the wounds from the sword of separative thinking fall away and we are renewed in a dome of transcendental beatitude.
Grace is free to all be you Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, any of the other labels one may claim or none of the above. I have spoken in Christian terms for these are the terms familiar to me. What Christians call Christ is known by other names in other religions. The approach may be described a little differently according to culture and language, but you can be sure that the One Source visits them all even to this very day. Each religious group likes to claim exclusivity on the truth and the way to salvation, but this merely amounts to spiritual materialism and no such claim has ever been granted. “You must come to Me yourself and alone” says Grace. This means in your own heart. You have also heard Christ has said “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” This means that each must come by the way of what Christians call Christ (others have other names for this Great Encourager). “This Only Begotten Son of God” however, is an all pervading principle of pure unconditional love that can be discovered within each one of us if we will stand in the still flower of the Divine pistil. The blood sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son is a reference to the presence within us of that Only Begotten One as we traverse and make ourselves painfully “bloody” and lost in that horizontal cross plane of space-time (or, of duality, or, of the flesh, if you prefer) as we seek satisfaction by material means.
As described in the above imagery, Christ is the pure unconditional love, the only begotten of God, that is born in the virgin heart of one who has set desire for all else aside. This is the bottom line and such Grace is free to anyone from any walk of life willing to put down their heavy load of doubt, fear and desire long enough to begin cultivation of a pure heart. There is no other way – but this way has many descriptions and many names. It is a veritable magic tree of rainbow light. It belongs to all. Let it be gleaned from and sought out in every tradition by whatever name. Groups form for mutual encouragement and increase their potency as they synthesize diversity, but It is time to put away exclusivist monochromatic claims that pit one group against another seeing said claims for what they are: more trappings of the material kind.
Thus the stage may be properly set for the emergence of The World Teacher who comes for the upliftment of all people regardless of religious affiliation or the lack there of. This Teacher comes today and can be found in your quiet and prepared heart as your own truest self, as well as in His own enlightened body for the ready student – humanity. Many are swayed by the falseness of exclusivism and many more by the anti-spiritual (anti-Christ) commercial emphasis on satisfaction by material ends. These ways will hold your nose and eyes down so you cannot sense the endless labyrinth they weave. Beware, but… take heart, for there are more and more signs of the new time just ahead. The Magic Tree signs to you – Love. The Teacher for this time is very near. Stand up still and look about you and most importantly within! Will Treelighter