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My Family of Trees and Cardinals

May 1, 2018
I grew up going to The Morton Arboretum with my Ma.  When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate all the beauty and peace it has to offer.  I remember like yesterday the first time I began to notice.
I was a senior in high school preparing for the state meet in badminton. I had been in the meet the year prior as a junior in singles but didn’t do well. I was worried about having a repeat experience. My Ma knew I was stressed. She thought going for a walk on the Joy Path would help, as this is where she would go when worried or stressed. 

We were walking and talking, and all of the sudden a cardinal flew by a lot closer than usual and so beautifully red. I instantly got excited but peaceful at the same time. It was as though it was a message. My partner and I won first place in doubles at the state meet that year!

From then on, seeing a cardinal became my sign of good luck, and whenever I have something on my mind that causes me stress, I go to the Joy Path for a peaceful walk. There were a couple more examples when it came to college or my health that I found the Arboretum helpful and it became my sanctuary. After coming home from college my Ma purchased a membership for me as my birthday present and I’ve been a member ever since.

I also got my admiration for sycamore trees from my Ma during our visits at the Arboretum. When we walked the Joy Path, there were three sycamores in particular we would see, which later became my counsel when I needed to get away from the real world or for guidance in difficult situations. So much so I decided to name them--Big Mama, Brother, and Sister. They weren’t to replace my actual family, but became my additional family. More often than not, I feel as though I’m talking to God through them.  

For the last couple of years, I try to go to the Arboretum at least once a week to say "Hi" to my family of trees and cardinals.
Marissa with her dog

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