Paula Schneider            Some Native Americans have a philosophy that if a healthy tree is put into a forest with sick trees, that healthy tree will become sick too.  Likewise, if a sick tree is put into a forest with robust trees, the sick tree will be healed.  I find this a very comforting belief, because imbedded deep within it is the concept of choice.  In some situations we can choose whether to be sick or to be hale and hearty, and depending on the strength of our support systems, we may stay sick or be healed.

            I recently met someone who told me she was really fed up with her friends.  At every turn, it seems they did something unkind, hurtful, or unpleasant.  She stayed surprised at their behavior and thought (hoped) they would change, but they did not.  It seemed to her that every chance they had they would do something to reinforce her belief that they were not going to act in positive, healthy ways.

            Who in this situation needed to make a choice to change?  I believe it was my new acquaintance, especially since she was now fully aware of her friends’ behavior patterns.  She could choose to stay and be hurt over and over again, or she could decide to separate herself from these unhealthy situations and put herself in a more supportive  environment.  T. D. Jakes on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday said, “If you’re hanging out with 9 dysfunctional friends, pretty soon you’ll be the 10th.”  Truer words were never spoken.

            However, a healing forest of well friends can be a fabulous source of love and support in times of need.  This healing forest can also sustain and uplift us even when there is no crisis brewing.  It can empower us to know we are strong, healthy, and useful.  Why would we want to spend time with people who try to make us believe we are anything less than awesome?

            I invite you today to contemplate the concept of a healing forest.  Do you live and have your being in such a forest?  Or are you surrounded by sick trees?  Observe others in your world—family members, friends, casual acquaintances.  What kind of forest are they living in?

            If you find yourself in an undesirable forest, remind yourself you can change.  Sometimes the choice may be difficult, and it may take some time to make adjustments, but it is so worth it!