I know. I know. Blogging is a dinosaur in the social media world of you and your friends. Facebooking, too. Even so, I trust you will be patient with my birthday well wishes through these media.

Through these various media, including your mother’s text, I know you had a slumber party celebrating your sixteenth. I woke up in the middle of the night contemplating what I would like for you to remember going forward on the next leg of your journey. Maybe, your slumber party woke me up. Because I was half-awake, I kept thinking of a line from the poet, Rumi,

“Don’t go back to sleep…”

He was referring to a deeper love available in relationships and how easy it is to slumber through friendships without a continual awakening and opening of our hearts. So, there you go: that is one wish I have for you. Read Rumi. Treasure friendships.

Once awake, I recalled vividly a day near your eighth birthday, an early morning. We hiked down into a little canyon off our back deck, slipping and sliding along the way. Crossing the wet weather creek, we looked up a rise on our right. On the ridge line stood a medium sized juniper tree, one I like to sit under and meditate. Up the hill we scrambled. With a wrinkled nose and twinkling eyes, you invited me to climb. Or did I invite you?

Sitting on the second limb from the bottom, we both focused our awareness on a heart-shaped feature of the trunk. Running our hands over the rough spot, it seemed like the wild heart of the tree entered us. In my mind that moment linked us forever.

 But only if we don’t go back to sleep to our wild hearts in the tree.

Suggesting to a sixteen-year-old to treasure your wild heart might seem strange coming from a grandfather, something like opening the hen-house to the fox. Yet, that is exactly what comes to me on the morning of your sixteenth.

Along that line I want to thank you as another memory comes to mind. In this blog sequence you will notice a story about saving an ancient oak tree from the Texas Hi-Way Department’s plan to cut down a grove for their idea of progress. Several of us planned a ceremony on behalf of the trees and to honor the fine women who had enough courage and persistence to oppose a massive bureaucracy. It was a big day, but I don’t think I ever told you the high point for me.

When I saw you and your mother and father, my heart leapt up. Especially, to see you in that setting. I know when you are sixteen there are many competing pulls for your time and attention on a weekend afternoon. I know drumming and chanting are not part of your usual school life. It seemed a little awkward for both of us. But you chose to be there. You chose to spend those hours not only on behalf of your grandparents but also on behalf of heritage trees.

And I peered past a natural reticence completely understandable in a situation of a sixteen-year-old among a circle of, shall we say, mature adults. As I looked, I saw the same untamed soul from our heart tree long ago. I saw the original face, one not covered over and drowned by the mainstream.

Then, a couple of days ago, your friends, ones at our slumber party, posted this picture of you. It was clear to me they saw what I saw in you. And that wild heart shining through is your gift to me on your sixteenth birthday.


  1. What a beautiful love letter – the dialogue shared by an elder witnessing the emergence of a child through rites of passages and birthing the development of a wildheart in gentle and subtle ways. I project to decades from now when the elder has transitioned and the grown woman reflects on the richness of the words and sentiment. How love does transcend and keeps us awake even in a slumber.

  2. What beautiful words to go hand and hand with a picture that depcits true beauty. I am in awe of the words and the picture.

  3. Many times I have thought of you over the years. It is such a wonder to realize that you are now sixteen! Many blessings for your birthday and the years to come. I think of you with your laughter. I think of you with your swimming and bravery. I think of you on your trip to the Grand Canyon. I think of your doll that could connect the circle of friends. Happy memories – all. May there be many more.
    Love and Puha,

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