"I remember once listening to a Mayan elder talk about one day when he was walking in the forest with a young boy who had cut off one of the branches of a small tree. The boy was proud of his new walking stick and displayed it for the elder to see. The elder questioned whether the boy had gone about it in a proper way: asking permission, taking only what he needed, and giving thanks to the tree spirit by making some offering. The boy replied that he had just cut it off because he needed a good walking stick and the branch was a good one for that. The elder asked the boy to go back to the tree and put his hand on the spot where he had cut off the branch.

" 'What did you feel?' he asked the boy.

" 'It was wet,' said the boy.

" 'That is because the tree was crying,' the elder replied."

To Practice: Mind your spiritual manners every time you start to take something from Mother Nature.

Michael Garrett in Walking on the Wind: Cherokee Teachings for Harmony and Balance