She hiked along the deer trail, looking forward to seeing her old friend. High on the mountain ridge, Jessie sat down among the tree’s gnarled roots winding serpent-like through the red clay and rocks. She leaned back against the peeling bark of the juniper’s trunk, nestling into the welcoming embrace of the ancient tree. Jessie closed her eyes, soaking up the warmth of the sun as her mind wandered off into the events of the past week.

“It’s been awhile since I’ve seen you.” The juniper tree’s voice called Jessie back from her hazy rehashing of days gone by.

“I’ve been so busy,” Jessie explained, “running around getting ready for the holidays. I’m exhausted and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.”

“Set aside your worries,” said the old tree. “Thanks Giving is already here. You’ll see. Just take a look around.”

Jessie looked out toward the western horizon, noticing a deer grazing in the meadow, listening to the ravens cackle and caw. She really wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be looking for. “You celebrate Thanksgiving out here?” she finally asked.

“Always have. Always will,” replied the old tree. “Every day, as a matter of fact. Gift giving and receiving. Thanks giving and receiving. It’s all here in the circle of life.”

“Well, where I come from,” said the woman to the tree, “the giving of gifts and the giving of thanks are scheduled holiday events.” The woman leaned in closer, lowering her voice to reveal a long-held secret. “And the funny thing is, everybody seems pretty stressed.”

“Take a deep breath,” invited the tree. “And take another look around. This time, listen with every cell of your body. Feel with the eyes of your heart.”

Jessie sighed and leaned back into the juniper’s trunk. She gently touched the ground, feeling the warmth of the sun held in the soil and emanating from the rocks. She watched a flock of speckled birds fly from tree to tree feasting on plump juniper berries. Jessie heard the tree’s whispers floating by on the winds.

Giving and receiving are vibrant rivers of energy,                         
open and flowing and circling around from one to another and back.
Unconditional giving. Not an ounce of hesitation.
Boundless receiving. Welcoming the gifts.
Sifting through what is not needed.
Shedding what no longer belongs.
Filling and flowing with gratitude and love.
That’s how we weave the web of life.

Jessie sat quietly, pondering awhile. Then she turned to face the juniper tree. “That seems so easy out here,” the woman confided, “with you and the birds and the sun and blue sky. But do you really think people can do this?”

The woman felt a sudden underground tremor. The powerful quaking moved through the juniper’s roots and up through the branches which shivered and shook, showering the woman with needles and berries.

“People can do this!” the tree chuckled. “You’re part of the web of life.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jessie smiled, “I almost forgot.”

Rooted deep in the earth and warmed by the sun, the woman and the tree soaked in the beauty of the sharing of their joy.

When the sunset painted the sky purple and red, Jessie knew it was time to hike down the deer trail and back over the mountain ridge. She stood up and brushed spiky green needles from her hair and blue juniper berries from her lap, sharing with the earth the nourishments given by the elder tree.

Reaching into her woven bag, Jessie found the handful of shimmery pebbles she’d collected earlier that day. She gently placed the stones on the gnarled roots of the ancient tree before continuing on her way.