The Tree of Life

Last night I imagined a Tree…

It stands alone on an empty grass-covered hill.  The sky surrounding it is a beautiful dusk – stained orange and peeled with a light pink.  The sun is a crisp gold and is falling behind it.  Strands of its light are crisp through the wide branches like shimmering golden silk.

The tree is magnificent – a wide trunk, long branches full of perfect green leaves.  It’s massive and tall.  I’m drawn to it, marching towards it, I can feel the thick grass sinking and whispering beneath my feet with each excited step.   As I near the tree I slow.  I feel great respect for it, as if it knows something about me, some secret I’m unaware of.

I reach out to it cautiously but graciously, as if it were the back of a great animal.  I run my fingers over its thick dark brown bark.  It’s coarse, old, rough to the touch, but strangely warm – maybe heated by the sunlight we now share, I’m not sure.  I remove my fingers and look up at it, now underneath its shadow — protected.  It seems like an endless journey to the top, branch after branch with no end in sight.  The sunlight trickles through from above – almost laughing at me…I see it as a challenge.

I lift my leg and get footing on a root; I reach up and wrap my fingers around the first branch.  It’s sturdy but my weight makes it shake, leaves hissing as they hit the air, a few of them fall.  I don’t care anymore about disturbing it and I lift myself up, wrapping both hands around it and clasping on.  I pull the rest of my body up and I’m now sitting on this branch.  My attention is grabbed by the end of this branch – where its narrower, thinner – surely weaker.  There dangles a light green pear, it’s ripe and the sunlight is hitting it just right – it seems to be glowing.  It makes me realize I’m hungry and I think about how great that pear would taste.

I lay my stomach down against the branch and start sliding myself towards the pear.  As I do, I disturb the branch more, more leaves falling.  The branch is creaking underneath, as if trying to tell me something.  I don’t listen, I want the pear and keep moving towards it – it looks perfect.  I’m close to it now and extend my fingers to reach for it.  My fingertips glide against its silken skin but I can’t grasp it.  I hit it with my fingers but it dangles, bobbing back and forth on its branch – taunting me.  I realize how hard I’m trying to reach it and I stop.  “Are you really hungry or do you only think you’re hungry now that you’ve seen this piece of fruit?”

Suddenly, the tree is silent again, so is the air around me.  I sit up.  I bring myself slowly back towards the thick trunk – the branch seems so much sturdier now.  I get back to the trunk and stand up – balancing on this branch that only a moment ago I had brought great disturbance to.  I look up again; the next branch up is high, too high for me to reach on my own.  I look back and the pear is still there – it doesn’t look as enticing anymore, maybe the sun has moved, or maybe I just don’t want it as badly now.

I take a deep breath and turn back to the trunk.  I gently put my hands on it and ask it for a way to get to the next branch.  I ask deeply, again running my hands along the bark.  Without sound, it creates a new branch, something I can get my foot onto, something between where I am and the next place.  I can feel myself smile and I silently thank it.

I pull myself up onto what has just been given to me and then extend my arm to the next branch above me.  Once I’ve grasped it, I let my body swing into the air as I pull my other hand onto it.  I’m dangling over the ground.  If I let go, I’ll surely fall and hurt myself, maybe worse.  I close my eyes, collect my strength, and I lift myself up, swinging my legs around and I’m now atop it – safe and all is silent again.

I look out at my new view.  I can see the horizon fading into a beautiful crisp night, I look down at my feet dangling over that thick grass as a breeze whistles through it.  I close my eyes and breathe in, it’s cool summer air and it smells wonderful.

I decide to stand up on this branch and take in another deep breath.  I look up.  There are still so many branches above me but it doesn’t matter.  I realize that I like where I am now, I like this view, and when I’m ready I’ll continue upward.

I look down to the branch below where I struggled only a moment ago.  I look for the glistening pear.  I’m sure it’s still there, but from here, I can’t see it.

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~ by Dan Fabrizio on March 17, 2011.

One Response to “The Tree of Life”

  1. Hi, did you take this picture? It is truly beautiful! I have been looking for a picture like this for my church website. I was wondering if you were willing to give us permission to use it or sell us the right to use it?

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