Never judge a book by its cover. Thatís a lesson I learned when I picked up In the Company of Trees: Orbiting the Heart of the Sacred and thought that because the cover was very plain and uninspiring, the contents would be, too. I was wrong. This is a beautiful, moving and deeply inspiring book that speaks to our deepest longing to be at one with nature again.
An homage to trees and the power of life they represent, this poetic and lyrical book is a series of essays written by Shamms Mortier, a writer, teacher and deep thinker who resides at the foot of the mighty Hogback Mountains in Vermont. Mortier, who also provided the magical illustrations, shares his love for trees and the gifts they give, including the many wonders of wood and its important and creative place in our lives. His essays are filled with his own awe and reverence for nature, his personal experiences living out in the woods away from the busyness of modern urban life, and his humor as he takes notice of the details of life that most of us often miss. In those details, we learn that miracles exist.
Take, for instance, the simple wood table, which in Mortierís eyes is transformed into a tool for communication and connection when families gather around it to talk. Or the act of picking apples, which for those who engage in it, becomes a powerful ritual of life and sustenance. Or giving a gift of a handmade dollhouse, which signifies our ability to survive in nature without being a slave to consumerism. Or seeing time from the grander perspective of the trees, rather than from our own tiny little parenthesis of existence. Mortier writes about gathering wood, or making the perfect walking stick, as if they are spiritual experiences, and indeed they are, for they connect us back to where we came from Ė the soil and the dust and the wood and the trees.
These essays are gorgeously written, filled with real and honest emotion, warmth and wisdom, and I literally fell in love with this book. The cover may be plain, but what lies in these pages is anything but. It is the profound observations of a man who has found true contentment in the natural world, and is now urging others to come join him and sit beneath the healing presence of trees.