During the retreat, we sit quietly for long periods of time… some walking around slowly, some reading, some people staring at flowers or water and such Then people spill their guts about their subtlest thought that ever possessed them. We have been talking about icons… not the things on your desktop but pictures, slices of time. moments that invite you through the portal of time and space into eternity and infinity. An old apple tree planted in a hayfield now encroached with pine saplings became my symbol for how all generations live off the life force and decay of the previous generation. For this old tree in its stage of decay, there were large planes where the bark has fallen off and rows of rectangles appeared- each with a deep hole drilled in the middle- of maybe a woodpecker. Clumps of pale green lichen clung to the dead branches and sections of exposed inner wood had a pimply dry grey surface where tiny branches once grew. As the eye followed the line of the trunk up there were holes burrowed in the trunk, the right size to give shelter to a small bird’s nest. This apple tree is giving up its shape and substance up to feed other creatures. Collapsing in on itself, an icon of how we build our life up from the carpet of rich nourishment of others who whether willing or not, sacrificed and died before our time to provide us nourishment and wisdom.