There are few times in the memories of those living where hope has been more greatly needed. As we near this year’s close, I find myself seeking out the bright spots - those things promising better times to come.

Top on that list are natural places and forests. In them, we find tranquility and relief for daily cares. Wonder at the subtle glamour and perseverance of leafy plants and gentle giants serves to shore up our sense of connectedness in the world. Peace comes with the recollection that trees and forests perish again and again, yet also regrow and return in a life-affirming cycle. 

October and November mark the timeframe in which several Pacific Islands celebrate Arbor Day (October 1 in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, October 13 in Guam, and November 6 in Hawai‘i, to name a few). This holiday honoring trees is one that countries around the world, and every state in the U.S., celebrate throughout the year. These festivities centered around appreciation for trees demonstrate our global commitment to shaping a joyful and thriving present and future. For in the words of people in Guam, “Adahi i tano' sa' ayu muna'lå'la' i taotao” (Take care of the land because that's what allows people to live).

In a moment when many are experiencing disconnect and division, it can be helpful to remember the things we share. Most have experienced the grounded feeling one gets when leaning up against or even just brushing fingers along a tree. Large or small, trees offer this solace and can remind us that there are universal experiences that connect us even across great philosophical and geographic divides.

In a time in which peacefulness and hope feel in short supply, I invite you to take a moment to appreciate a tree in your ordinary space. Let its strength add to your own, and its presence help you to persevere.

“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.” -Wangari Maathai