I see a tree whose roots are in the soil of our common ground, our shared humanity. Presently, many of us are living in a spiritually barren land, where hate poisons the soil of our humanity through racism, sexism, and mentalism. The importance of starting with common ground between ourselves and our fellow persons is repeatedly emphasized by all of us with disabilities. Until we are respected and addressed in people first language our efforts to recover will always be interfered with by society at large. After all, we are foremost trying to recover meaningful roles of work, family, and play in society.

Within the ground of our shared HUMANITY we each have the seed of a SPIRIT yearning to sprout roots which will tap the nourishing soil of our CONNECTIONS to all living beings, and yearning to bear fruit in our creations for others. African-Americans talk of root work as a central element of healing. Many of us have been uprooted in coming to this land just as we have uprooted others who were already here. Perhaps our tap root draws on HOPING that we will continue to grow and heal. Surely without hope we wither on the vine. Hope means that no matter how bleak our situation we can find some spark to keep a vision of future burning. We also suckle on the milk of UNDERSTANDING. That understanding is as much at an emotional as a thinking level and it gives us each a sense of MEANING and worth to out life. Another element of nourishment comes from LISTENING which is a vital aspect of our gaining a VOICE. Other important elements I look for in the soil of humanity around me are LOVING, ENCOURAGING, ACCEPTING, RESPECTING, and BELIEVING people. These are just a start and in fact a useful activity is to ask each other what you look for in others for human nourishment of your spirit.

To round out the image of the tree, which we might call our recovery tree or tree of self knowledge, I see my trunk as composed of my mind, body, and spirit in harmony. The central branches emerging from it are of sense of SELF and VOICE. By voice I mean that of true artist expression of my feelings.

The limbs of my tree reach out to give fruit for myself and others of LOVE, COURAGE, SELF-ESTEEM, PRIDE, HOPE, AND MEANING (to name a few). Try filling out your own recovery tree and see if others would like to do so with you as a group.