The Great Tree: A Story to Heal the World

Fairchild Oak tree, Ormond Beach, Fla. 2The Fairchild Oak, Ormond Beach, Fla., by Andrew Armstrong, courtesy fineartamerica.com

Once upon a time
a child came to earth.
His father was the Sun,
and his mother was the Moon.
And he loved the earth as himself.
Though he was a boy, destined
to be a man like his father,
he came in the spirit of his mother.
And he loved the earth very much,
but he could not save it.

He tried
being a businessman,
with all the busy men,
but he could not save the earth.

He tried
being a farmer and a vinegrower,
with all the earth-breaking men,
but he could not save the earth.

He tried
being a teacher and a keeper of the law,
with all the law-abiding men,
but he could not save the earth.

So he went to the women,
and he sat near their center of work,
the bowls, brooms, and cries of hard labor,
and he cried. He cried and
he cried, and he cried.
He cried near the women kneading dough.
He cried near the laundresses washing clothes.
He cried near the women keeping houses
clean for the men and the children,
but he could not save the earth.

Just beyond the women and children,
he found a raw place in the earth
where it was sore from so much work,
and he lay upon the wound,
and he cried.

The noise of his wailing was too much
for the men. It disturbed their work.

The noise of his wailing
made the women scoff
and the children laugh,
but the animals came to him.
They licked his tears and tried to lick
his wounds, but they could not.
The animals stayed beside him anyway.

The man had cried so long
he poured out his very heart in his tears,
until finally he dried up and just blew away.
The ragged blanket that had covered him
eventually blew away, too, until there was nothing
left but a dark spot on the earth, where all
his tears had spilled.
And finally that, too, was gone.
And then the earth went to sleep,
or so it seemed,
for no one knew what was happening
down deep.

Now we know,
never a tear is wasted,
and never a tear is lost.

One day a little girl came crying.
She was poor, alone, and afraid.
She lay upon the ground where the man
had cried, and her tears awoke the earth.
Suddenly a great movement started beneath her,
and the earth opened up in small cracks.
The heads of tiny plants began to emerge,
then leaves and stems and tall, sturdy stalks.
More plants emerged,
and flowers bloomed.
The girl began to laugh. She laughed
and she laughed and she laughed,
loving and playing in the flowers. They tickled her
and tended her, as she stroked and admired
their beauty.

Soon the people came.

Already, some had come—
the young farmers and businessmen and lawyers
had slipped away from their work years before,
and set up small camps behind the crying man.
Some of the young women, too,
had escaped their fate of work. To lie beside
the crying man was better than grinding away,
they believed.
And so the poor child’s arrival was no surprise.

But the garden was.
And the great tree that emerged
in the midst of it all
was a shelter of strength
no one could have ever seen coming,
unless they had seen all the tears
the man had poured into the earth.
It was a river of love.

As the people gathered,
they shared their stories,
they sang their songs,
and by telling and listening with utmost care,
in the end,
everyone of them had seen it all.
“Stay in the river of love,” they sang,
though no one knew
exactly who gave them the song.

And they are coming still,
telling and listening …
singing and welcoming
anyone to tell their stories
about the great tree. . .

The branches gave buds to sweeten the air.
The leaves gave shade to cool the earth.
They painted the sky with the colors of light,
And the tree was bare and bright.

Even when the dry leaves fell,
the strong body of the trunk reminded the people,
the tree and everything around it is all right.
Even in deep darkness, it is always full of light.

“It grows in the river of love,” they sang,
“it grows in the river of love.”

Thank you for listening to my story, and
blessings to you, as you listen
to the tellings of the story
of the great tree inside you.

Copyright 2015 Suzanne Comer Bell

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4 thoughts on “The Great Tree: A Story to Heal the World

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