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30 Days with a Madrona: Day 6 - War and Trees

The Madrona (who has yet to reveal her name to me) is located on a hillside inside Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, the site of a former military base. It was built in the early 1900’s as one of three forts built to protect the entrance to Puget Sound. Ironically, the Madrona probably owes her existence today to the fact that her surroundings were military. In the 1970’s, the Fort was turned over to a state park. If not for the base, no doubt this same area would now be populated with million dollar home and most of the trees gone.

I have never been overly proud to be part of the most militaristic nation on earth. The ever present, aggressive, war-driven nature of the country that peaceful loving Americans have to be resolved to live with. I take great solace in this fort built for war, now being a center for nature and the arts. I believe it is trees and peaceful hearts that will heal and save the planet, not guns, not soldiers, not billion dollar warplanes.

I speak of this today because as I made my way to the Madrona during night, the sky erupted in a thunderous cacophony. It roared over the hillside and filled the airspace for dozens of miles around, covering all of Port Townsend and most of Whidbey Island. It is a recurring invasion of sound we are being asked to endure more and more of.

It is brought to us by the arrogance, selfishness, callousness and indifference of the United States Navy, which has a base on Whidbey Island. For dozens of years the base existed on compatible terms with the many peaceful residents around it. Months ago, however, the aggressive dullards at the base brought in a fleet of EA-18G Growlers. Fair enough you say, until you learn by experience that they are well named. These planes generate so much noise they obliterate airspace for miles around. And the sweethearts at the Navel Base, despite intense public outcry, run regular test flights of these beasts at night, often for hours up until midnight. They do not care. It’s the cost of freedom we are always told. Sorry, it is the cost of arrogance, of blind buildup of military might when the world so desperately needs help and healing. Each one of these growling beasts represents dozens of hospitals and schools not built. They ain’t protecting my freedom.

As I lay in the arms of the Madrona on this decommissioned home of a former military base listening to the growlers rattle the sky to smithereens, I wonder how the Madrona hears them? I pressed my ear to its trunk and could feel the vibration of the planes. And I sensed underlying that still the tree's essential profound peaceful nature. I listened to its secret: Trees do not kill. Trees do no harm. They only give. They even give to those who are destroying the planet and whose misplaced priorities are bringing all of us to the brink.

I wonder if all those warlords and families of warlords and military crazed supporters could be with a tree a bit every day, I wonder if over time, maybe just maybe they would feel a hint of real peace, not the peace they talk about that hides behind fear and paranoia and weapons, but true peace, the peace of being. The peace of a tree. The peaceful essence of the silent friends amidst us, who never growl but only truly serve.

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