Coping With Sudden Change: Listening to the Trees


By Curtis Miller and Emily Phifer


In nature, we see reflected back to us a truth we also encounter in our core experience as humans:

Life is unpredictable and difficult


When the unexpected hits, every aspect of our being is challenged – mind, body and soul.  Like trees buffeted about by strong, gale force winds, we must adapt and move in response to what hits us – bending with the challenge, and not fighting against it. When we face unexpected hardship, we are forced to face the crisis at hand, even as we struggle and recoil against the sudden onslaught we did not ask for, nor expect. We may fear being ripped up by the roots, while just trying to survive the storm– not knowing when or how it will pass, or how we will ever survive another day beyond the challenges we face.


In nature, the trees that survive gale force winds are those that stand within a “community” of trees, rather than standing alone.  Likewise, trees that best weather strong storms are those that are flexible to bend rather than rigidly resisting the forces confronting them. 


The trees that stay strong in the storm have solid root systems to anchor them to the earth.  


We, too, must find ways to ground and protect ourselves when unexpected forces challenge and assail us in the course of Life’s storms.  Consider the following…


  1. Surrounding oneself with a loving and supportive community is an adaptive way to not only deepen your relational experience of life, but also to guard against isolation in times of unexpected hardship and challenge
  2. When the winds of change or challenge enter our lives, we must learn how to bend and flex in response, discovering the amazing resiliency within us to respond to the unexpected and often unwanted parts of our lives. 
  3. Likewise, we must stay grounded in what brings us hope and courage when the light dims and what we thought we could count on wavers or threatens to disappear.


During this time of isolation at home, how are you adapting in order to stay connected to your community?
What are some ways you have been “bending and flexing” during this time?  How might you do this for yourself this coming week?


Our roots can grow deeper and our innate strength can emerge when we, like the trees, weather unexpected storms with these truths that Nature so wisely models for us. 


Even with social distancing, and in this turbulent time, we can stay grounded:

  1.     Call, text or video chat with a loved one. Send a letter or card to someone by mail.
  2.     Drink water with lemon, take vitamins, eat healthy, tasty foods.
  3.     Find music to play daily that grounds and feeds your soul.
  4.     Limit news and social media input that increase your anxiety beyond staying informed.
  5.     Ground yourself in something to read that brings you hope and truth beyond today. Pray.
  6.     Sit or walk in the sunshine and fresh air- get outside. Plant seeds and garden.
  7.     Do something artistic that relaxes you- watercolor, coloring book, write/journal, play an instrument, sing a song, play with clay. 
  8.     Rest- slow down and let your body take regular breaks from anxiety and stress.