I have a new quirk. When I am out walking in these beautiful hills, I stop at a tree that calls me, most often a naked gum. I put my hand to its trunk, I revel in the contact for the second… And then… I push. I push against this force of nature… And it doesn’t move. It is solid and firm and unyielding to such a little hand as mine. I push against my chosen tree and I say to it, ‘You were once a seed. You were once a seed and then you grew into a tender shoot I could have crushed if I’d wanted to. Then you grew into a sapling I could have trampled down with only the barest of effort. Then you grew and grew and now you are this and not even with all my might could I push you down.’ And then, like an impassioned interpretative dancer, I say to myself, ‘Be the tree.’
Be the tree.
To ever be the tree, first you must be the seed. Seeds don’t sit buried under the soil crying ‘It’s too dark in here, I’ll never reach the light! How do I even know the surface and the sun are real? I can’t see them. I might as well just stay here.’ Oh no, that’s not how seeds go. Seeds follow the infinite voice that calls them. Seeds listen to the perfect message echoed over and over in their cells that says ‘Grow, grow, grow!’
All sustainable growth is two-fold, simultaneously deeper and higher. To grow strong and proud above the surface you must be expanding and increasing your access to nourishment at your very depths.
From the bursting of the seed comes the miraculous push to break the surface, to establish that first moment of connection with the Sun. There’s no way forward but through. And then it’s graduation time – from the seed to the tender new shoot and the first ‘proof’ of growth to the world out there. ‘Behold! I have sent down shoots and I have pushed up through the dark and now, now shining world, I am HERE!!’ The new shoot is delicate, rich and crunchy with growth. New shoots are perfect fodder… They will feed a passing animal… But they will only feed it once… The real abundance comes later.
And then comes the sapling… Less crushable, slightly more resilient… It starts to own the space around it, maybe even give of a little shade or a fruit or three… The ones who know look at this creation and say ‘Oh I know what you’re going to be. I know the fruit you’re going to bear. I know the shade you are going to provide. I know how grand you are going to be.’ The ones who don’t know say things like ‘Is it a weed? What is it? I’ve never seen anything like that before! Should we get rid of it?’ (Plant yourself near ones who know.) And the little tree keeps on growing and growing and growing…
After much growth there is stability, there is a wide centre and there are deep roots. From the seed finally is born the tree. Here’s where the sustainable abundance is. Now the trunk and branches are strong enough to bear bountiful fruit. Now there is space to give all kinds of creatures shelter. Now there is the knowing that a small hand can rest here and push and be greeted with solid, living strength. Behold, the tree.
And still it answers the call with all its might, ‘Grow, grow, grow!’ Upward, outward, deeper, wider.
Be the tree.
*And with a flourish, I finish my dance and bid you adieu. Until we meet again my friend, until we meet again.*
‘Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.’ Robert H. Schuller