Magic Tree Information
-The tree is a 40 year old Crab Apple about 30 feet tall and wide.
-The lights are wrapped around each branch.
-I use a variety of extension ladders and stepladders to reach all the branches.
-There are over 900 sets of lights on the tree and 17 extension cords running up to the tree.
-There are 76,035 individual lights on the tree.
-17,850 of them (23%) are energy saving LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights.
-The tree has about 7500 more lights on it this year than last year.
-Because of the LEDs two less extension cords are needed and we expect to use less energy.
-Nonetheless we expect it to cost about $200.00 worth of power each full month the tree is lit.
-The biggest expense is in the purchase of LED light sets which range in cost of $7 for a 50 light set to $12 for a 60 light set.
-I started sorting and testing light sets from previous years at the beginning of October.
-I started putting them on the tree in mid October and finished the last branch on November 26th.
-It took over 130 hours of my “spare time” over six weeks to put all the lights up. It will take about half that time to take them down. (The lights are not designed to be left up year around.)
-There is now a web site for the Magic Tree: www.magic-tree.org. See fliers and pictures from past years and more information about why I light the tree and the meaning I intend for it.
- The Magic Tree will be lit each night from about 5pm till 11:30pm through Epiphany (January 6th). Other dates I plan to turn it on for are January 10, 15, 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, February 14, 17, 18, 20, 28, 29, March 1and 2.
-Please feel free to get out of your car and walk in under the tree or sit on the near by benches to just take it in.
-Take photos if you like.
-The Magic Tree is not about collecting donations. Your donations, however, if you are so inclined, are very much appreciated and make in particular the purchase of the expensive LED lights easier to manage. A donation box is located on the mail box post directly beneath the mail box on the slanted support board. Thanks.
- Again this year to practice the principle of sharing, 10% of donations will go to the Columbia chapter of The Alternatives to Violence Project, an additional 10% will go to Ryan’s Well and a third 10% (new for this year) will go to Norvell Park (the neighborhood private park across the street from the Magic Tree). The other 70% of donations will go toward the purchase of lights and electricity for the Magic Tree. More information about the above groups can be found through the Magic Tree web site.
Why do I light the Magic Tree? I started 13 years ago on a whim just wanting to do something different. I did just a few branches all the way out to the ends and then doubling back till I ran out the set of lights. People who saw it that first year told me they liked it and each year since I have tried to make a bigger and better display than the year before. Your comments have spurred me on.
When my arms and shoulders ache from reaching for the branches or I’m feeling the cold or sensing a bit of over obsessiveness, knowing how much people appreciate the tree helps me keep going. I also sometimes think of an experience I had with a tree and hope that perhaps the Magic Tree might also generate for some a similar experience.
I was still in college and on my way up the hill to class on an early February morning. There was a fog and a thick mist falling. My days in college and pretty much anywhere at that time were punctuated with bouts of anxiety attacks that would make my heart palpitate and skip beats which of course would make me even more anxious. I had asthmatic attacks too; and insomnia because I couldn’t turn my mind off enough to go to sleep. You see, I had concerns about the state of affairs the world was in and about my place in the world, and what I could do – basically – to…um…save? the world for God.
My parents were ministers and this left me feeling like God wanted me to do something for Him. I wanted to make a difference but I was really letting the desire get the best of me. In college I studied philosophy and religion and was trying everything on for size as I studied it. While this gave me many insights it tended to make me feel even more crazy with anxiety over my place in the world and what I could do to save it from all the suffering and injustices, the anger and the pain and the fear, the very anxiety that I felt.
I loved to play pinball at the student union, but the awareness that I was wasting time would spike my anxiety and make me have to go lie down and try to calm myself for fear I would die of a heart attack or something because of the skipping heartbeats and short breath. I felt like a fish out of water. I kept this all inside of me though. No one knew. I kept a calm exterior while inside I was self destructing. Occasionally I would try to tell someone about it, but I don’t think anyone really got what I was going through because I didn’t show it on the outside.
So this is the state of mind that had been building in me for years now, since my latter days of high school, as I walked up the hill to class on this early February morning. I stopped at the bottom of the steps up to the building and looked across the way and there was this great white pine tree that had grown so tall that it was bent at the top where the wind blew up over the building it was in front of. Down lower on the tree long reaching branches grew first one way and a then little higher up another way. I could see nothing beyond the tree for the fog was enveloping it and the mist was blowing in gusting waves across it and the tree swayed to and fro and suddenly… my mind stopped. It just became very still and quiet. The anxiousness left me. The machinations of trying to figure everything out were just gone. The site of the tree in the blowing mist and fog was so beautiful I couldn’t take it all in with out stopping everything else going on inside of me. So I did, I guess – it was automatic. I just stopped.
And then, I heard a voice, literally as though it were coming from the tree but was inside my head, yet out loud, and it said something like: “Everything is okay just the way it is, you don’t have to fix anything, there is nothing you need to do.” I felt a tremendous relief and then…I wiped my eyes and went to class.
I decided to cultivate the awareness of what the voice had said by intentionally quieting myself through meditation and also by just noticing beauty wherever I could find it around me. I did this especially whenever I felt some anxiety coming on and within several months all the physical symptoms of the anxiety that had been building up for years had subsided and has never come back.
I guess I hope the Magic Tree has a similar effect on those who need it although I know that each individual has a unique need and has unique inner resources to address the need. We need to remember that even when something appears to be coming from outside of us that it is really there within us otherwise it could not come to us at all. This is true of the slightest matter of perhaps our next thought or the stupendous advent of the Expected One’s emergence in full bodily form into our midst. It is true also of what we give out, how it comes back to us, because at one level we all share in the same larger Self. When we real-ize this the importance of doing diminishes and simply being the larger aspect of what we are becomes primary. The doing that naturally will come out of us (for it is our nature to do) then becomes more genuinely from the True Self and serves the Whole.
So, let’s guard our thoughts, words and actions knowing that what we put out there contributes to the Whole. But rest in awareness that the good that comes to us is ours already to receive.
Consider this quote from Franz Kafka:
“You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked,
It has not choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
We live in a great nation (a sub group of the Whole). How well it would be if we as a nation would stop, wait and listen, being “quiet, still and solitary”. Would the world then come to us and “roll in ecstasy at our feet”? The fight will have gone out of it because we banished the fight from ourselves. Then the fact that we are a nation characterized at the heart by love will be revealed and Peace that passes all understanding will reign.
It begins with each of us taking it upon ourselves to be what we are, to stop, wait and listen, being quiet, still and solitary even in the face of anxiousness and strife. There are various tools for doing this. You may already have yours. Some of them are prayer, meditation, a walk in the woods, or simply noticing the beauty around you and in the unlikely places. These tools, especially potent when combined, are keys that unlock the doorways and windows into our deeper, hidden nature. Use them and encourage others to do so and eventually we will live in a peaceful nation in a peaceful world because we have banished strife, fear and worry from ourselves to reveal the love that is the reality of what we are at heart. The actions we give out to others from that place will only encourage liberty, justice and well being for all peoples of the entire world.
Love’s in Everything
Beauty is in Everything
It is the signature of love
Look for it. Ask for it to be revealed.
You will see it,
P.S. 1/30/10 I just attended an lecture by Nalini Nadkami about trees. Please see her website: http://academic.evergreen.edu/n/nadkarnn/outreach/spirituality.html