One of the good things about our little rented home has always been the thick shield of trees that stands between us and the road. Great glossy green laurels, disappearing in late spring under huge white blossoms, blanketing the whole house in heavy scent. The slender, fragile-looking deciduous tree with delicate perfumed white flowers later in the year. The little ‘volunteer’ tree that sprang up by itself a few years back and reached about seven feet tall – I have no idea of its name, but its humble, berry-like little green flowers nourished ecstatic hordes of bees this past summer. Soft furry-leaved glaucous bushes. A forsythia by the gate, blazing bright yellow each March. Holly – always stripped of its berries by the birds well before Christmas.
Well, like I said, we rent, and the landlord came round a month or so back to explain that the trees needed cutting back as they were impeding some overhead wires. This had been done before – a few high branches lopped off with a long trimmer. And then yesterday morning a man came round to say he’d be ‘doing your trees’. There were chainsaw noises.
Maybe you can guess how this ends. I went outside a few hours later to find the team of workmen just finishing cutting down the second to last tree. All the rest were already gone.
I asked the men to hold off until the landlord was called to check if he really wanted the last tree cut down, and then I talked to Yi. Not with a very coherent question, as you can maybe imagine – just ‘talk to me about this’.
Yi gave me Hexagram 22, Beauty, with line 5 changing, going to 37, People in the Home.
It’s one of those readings where it was immediately clear that it was speaking to me, and less clear at first what it was saying. There was 37, the home, in the background. There was 22, a hexagram of – amongst other things – the healing power of plants. Also with 22 comes the idea of deliberate communication, making yourself easy to relate to; that was something I very much needed to do when the landlord came round, so I absorbed it as direct advice.
But the moving line?
‘Beauty in a hilltop garden.
A roll of silk: small, so small.
In the end, good fortune.’
Of course I was – and am – simply mourning. But also, for some reason, I found myself saying again and again, I’m sorry, and I couldn’t understand what this was about or where it came from until I absorbed Yi’s words. This was shame.
It wasn’t just that the trees were killed, but that I had a strong connection, a relationship, with these trees; they’d given me shelter and joy for many years – and what could I give them in return? I’ve received so much, but my resources are so small, my power so ludicrously inadequate, that I have nothing to offer; I can’t even stop the chainsaw.
The fan yao, 37.5, fits in here as a background belief –
‘With the king’s presence, there is a home.
Do not worry. Good fortune.’
… that this should be my place, where I guarantee the safety of those who live here. When it isn’t, and I can’t, I’m ashamed.
Sometimes Yi offers guidance, and sometimes it shows you what’s happening in the world, or what you’ll find if you walk a particular path. And sometimes, as here, it simply helps me to unravel what’s going on in my own psyche. It brings some calm and a sense of perspective – especially when it quietly says,
‘In the end, good fortune.’
The line itself offers no explanation for this promise, but my sense of it has always been that in the long run, deep commitment is more important than inadequate resources.
Here is a picture of volunteer-tree that I took in June this year. (Click for the full-size image.) If you happen to know what it’s called, could you let me know? The bees would appreciate it very much if I could plant a replacement.
(The landlord did agree to leave the last laurel tree.)