I laid down with my son tonight as he was preparing to drift off to sleep. I was on my side, and he rolled over to look at me…
“Daddy, you look like wood,” he said. I opened my eyes to his gleaming smile.
“Really?” I replied, surprised, but thinking about how we had talked about our brown skin, and why it is different than other people.
“Yeah, why do you look like wood?” he asked.
“Because I will someday become a tree.” I began. “When I die, you will plant me in the earth, and I will sprout up into a great tree. My roots will dig deep into the soil, drawing up nutrients and water, spreading out to connect with other trees and life. My trunk will grow big and strong. My limbs and hair will spread and stretch out into branches and leaves to collect the sunlight above, and I will sway in the breeze.”
“You won’t turn into a tree, Daddy.” He laughed, with a big smile on his face at the idea. “If people turned into trees, the trees would have eyes and faces!”
“Maybe I will! Maybe I won’t.” I said to him, as he turned back over in bed. “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.”
“Daddy, do trees talk?” His small, tired voice asked.
“They do, in a few ways.” I said. “Trees talk through the wind, like the air in our lungs across our vocal cords. Their leaves shake and their limbs creak, and they sing a song in the wind. They talk in another, special way too. They talk through their roots, through the soil in the ground, with each other, and with other plants. If one tree is in need, they send food and water to them. When another tree dies, that tree gives its nutrients to the others so they live on. Trees talk with each other all the time! When I am a tree, you can always come to me to talk. You can sit under my shade and listen to my leaves. You can touch the soil under your fingers and know I am part of it, and the whole Earth loves you.”
By that time, however, my son was asleep, possibly dreaming of his dad made of wood.