For the 22nd week of the 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I picked Tree Spirited Woman by Colleen Baldrica. This book is only 91 pages, so it falls nine pages short of the 100-page minimum.
However, earlier in the week, I began to read The Lace Makers of Glenmara after reading a positive review at the library. I started reading the book, and it seemed interesting. Put it down for a bit, did some things around the house, and then picked it up again after putting the girls to bed. Read a few more pages and it didn't quite get my attention. I found my mind wandering....thinking...unfocused.
Skipped ahead to page 100 and thought I'd start there. Maybe it had improved by this time. As I was reading it, I fell asleep. Apparently it just wasn't a book I could get into. That...or I was tired.
Rather than try to finish a book that didn't hold my interest, I began reading Tree Spirited Woman. Since it was such a short book, I finished it in one sitting. Basically, the main character's grandmother dies. As she is cleaning her grandmother's room after her death, she comes upon a locked box that has a journal inside. The first two pages have a lovely and inspirational letter written by the grandmother to her. The rest of the journal is left blank for her to fill when she is ready.
The book focuses on the main character's visits with a wise and mystical woman whom she meets in the woods. Each month, on a specified date, the two meet. The woman shares with the main character her life lessons about the value of letting go, trusting in love, valuing person relationships, and accepting the inevitable phenomena of death.
Some parts of the book that I liked in particular include:
There are many gifts one may receive, but none so great as the gift of being heard.
The gift of listening does not cost money, but it will be greatly treasured by all who receive it.
There are many different relationships one will have in a lifetime...It is important to know each relationship is meant to be. It is often with strangers that we learn the most of who we are. How one treats a stranger tells much about oneself. Are you kind to the salesperson or to the poor who live on the street? One's actions speak loudly.
Each person is put into one's life for a purpose. We are to learn from one another. Every person has needs, and those needs are met by the many different relationships one has.
Children are the window to the future and the mirror to the past. A child allows on to see from where one has come and to dream about where one may go. Sometimes, as we age, it takes a child to help us remember our youth.
Many of my days have been filled with happiness, and many of the days filled with sorrow. I am pleased I have had many life experiences and would choose to give up none, for I have become the person I am because of all those life experiences and lessons.
When someone dies, they are physically gone. Still, a part of them lives on through all the lives they have touched.
The second to the last chapter of the book focuses on joy. I particularly liked this passage about trees and what we can learn from them:
Look at those leaves; they are already starting to change color. They have lived a full cycle. In the spring, they sprouted new buds and grew new leaves and branches. They were trusting and growing. It was a time of new beginnings, much like each new day.
The weather warmed; summer came. The leaves turned a rich green, blew in the wind, trusted all would be well in the life journey.
Autumn is now approaching. It is time for jubilation. The trees shout out for joy using bright colors, declaring the life journey is almost done. It is a sign they have lived and are not afraid of dying.
The tree lets go of the leaves a little at a time until the tree becomes barren. Then it is time for the tree to rest and rejuvenate until the next beginning.
The author, Colleen Moran Baldrica is an official Chippewa (Ojibwe) Tribe member of the Pembina Band, from the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. Ms. Baldrica ends the book with two pages of discussion/reflection questions as well as her hope that in each reader's life, that s/he finds and experiences "joy each day that will be your gift to others."