Wandering among the temples of Kamakura I came across some old trees that were amazingly scarred and yet still growing. They had obvious weaknesses, some had even been split in half, burned, or shattered. But the wounds had healed and they had recovered from their traumas. In the places where they were weak, they were supported and they continued to grow. Instead of being destroyed they were seen as valuable, their vulnerability recognized and the necessary aid given. With that help they continued to thrive and show beauty and grace. I saw myself in those trees–struggling to age gracefully as I’m torn apart, split in half, and covered in moss. As I suffer loss after loss, I need more support to keep going and have to accept my weakening body and unfulfilled dreams. But I also remember all that I have received from so many creatures and am still being given and feel rich and fortunate. Feeling the responsibility (the ability to respond) to give back in some way, keeps me moving on despite the setbacks. In continuing to give I also receive the kindness of others, in expressions of their gratitude and appreciation of what I offer. And with a little help from my many friends I continue to reach for the sun, growing new leaves, providing shade for the weary pilgrim.