Wednesday, February 10, 2010

For everyone out there reading this, many of you know Heather turns 8 this April, and to our great delight, she has made the decision to be baptized and dedicate her life to the Lord. I want to put together a book for her filled with words of wisdom to hand to her on her special day, and hope everyone out there will be willing/able to add a line or two in it. Below is my attempt to pass along what I know in parable form ... To contribute to the book, you can either write down your own thoughts, or you can add to the story/draw a picture/take a photograph for the parable.

Some people – some of you in fact – gave us a book filled with advice on our wedding day. I love that book and all that you wrote in it. Wedding day books are good, baptism day books might be good too. Let’s get those words of wisdom tucked in there as soon as we can!

OK – so below is the parable. You might want to organize your thoughts/advice now before reading it – I don’t want my attempt to ruin/distract you from anything you might have said instead. Thanks for putting up with yet another person asking for yet another favor ;).

Love you all!

The Tree of Knowledge
copyright 2010 Jamie Turner

In a most ordinary and common beginning – or was it a most extraordinary and unique beginning? Well, let’s just call it “a” beginning and let the reader decide for themselves what sort of a beginning it was… In a beginning, a little seed hung on a gently swaying branch in the garden of Eden.

The sun ushered in the seed’s first morning. Soft warm light poured into the shivering void and revealed an awakening world. A million petals unfolded. Teasing gusts of clear air carried the fragrance of blossoms as numerous as the sands of the sea and the stars in the sky. The seed looked through rose colored petals over gently rolling grassy hills. Birds were singing, bees were buzzing, dewdrops were sparkling. Spring is the perfect time of year for new beginnings. The little seed tingled with joy, happiness, and anticipation.

The first day was filled with discoveries and delights. The tree from which the seed hung was strong, tall, majestic, and covered in a white robe. This lofty shining ivory tower provided the perfect vantage point from which the little seed could look out over the entire countryside. Suspended between heaven and earth, the seed lived between white clouds and the deep green world.

The seed could see it all, but was not yet a part of it all. The seed was an ivory tower observer, a mere flower on the walls of the world.

Beyond the branches and leaves of the seed’s mother tree was a gently sloping hill that led to a large sunny meadow that disappeared into a forest. There was an energetic colony of rabbits along one side of the meadow, and a bubbling brook along the other side. A vast expanse of waving grass stretched out between the brook and rabbits. Outcroppings of moss covered boulders formed islands in a waving ocean of green. A little farmhouse lay nestled by the stream with a single strand of white smoke raising up from it’s chimney.

A pair of birds busily worked weaving long strands of grass into a nest on a nearby branch. A squirrel swished its tail and chattered at the birds. A butterfly tickled the seeds face with the soft brush of her wings, kissed her with a long curled up tongue, and then fluttered away again. In the heat of the day a most delightful and refreshing nectar poured into the seed from the tree branch above. The nectar came from the roots of the tree, and still held some of the coolness of the earth within it.
And so the first day passed for the seed with warmth and pleasantness.
She looked at life, and saw that it was good.

The first night came quite unexpectedly. In the newness of life everything is novel and unexpected of course. The night was especially unexpected because the brilliant oranges, reds, blues, and pinks of the sunset distracted her from seeing the growing darkness in the far corners of the sky. When at last the radiant flames of gold disappeared she was startled to find the rest of the world had grown cold, dark, and lonely. The world had grown tired, had drifted off to slumber in a dark, formless void.

Other seeds on the tree may close their petals tight, but she would stay awake and open to the new experiences of the night. When it grew dark enough, it was rumored she could see the stars. She wanted to see the stars. They considered her foolish for staying up, but she felt herself to be a brave adventurer exploring undiscovered realms.

As the suns warmth recedes into the ground the cool silence that lays hidden behind the noise and commotion of the day reveals itself. A new world is born at night. Time stands still, motion ceases, eyes slowly adjust to moonlight. The shape of a hill, the edge of the meadow, and the jagged edge of an almost familiar rock once more come into shadowy focus. Just as eyes adjust to the night, ears also adjust. With time, sounds emerge from the silence. The sound of the far off stream, the sound of grass and leaves wrestling in the breeze, and when the breeze is gone, sounds from within the tree of water slowly filtering and bark slowly growing. Two worlds in one. One world is noisy, restless, brazen and bright. Another world is silent, still, hidden behind the bright lights of the first. The little seed reveled in this new wonderland where all the small unnoticed details were revealed. Peace like a river flowed through her veins.

She had become so lost in the tranquility, harmony, and serenity of the night she almost didn’t notice the new deeper silence that swept over even the quietest of sounds. Experienced eyes and ears seemed to know/hear/feel it before the little seed. The new silence was the calm before the storm. The tree, and all knowing things, braced themselves for the impact. It came from a distance, rolling over the land, through the dark forest, over the moonlit fields. The first icy fingers which snaked and slithered into the tree were but a small taste of things to come. The other seeds cried in freight, yelled in anger, and struggled in confusion. Some held on tight, some gave up and let the icy tongues carry them away.

She was not like the others though. She had stayed awake while they had slept, she had experienced the peace and tranquility of the night and was no longer frightened or confused by the darkness. She didn’t cry or yell, she laughed. She laughed and joined the icy fingers of the wind in a frenzied chaotic dance in the starlit sky.

The calm before the storm – life is like that. At the precipice of finding peace and contentment, something comes to try and take it away. Peace cannot be taken away once it is discovered though. Thunder and lightning do not destroy silence, they simply cover it up. The peaceful silent comforter is always present underneath it all for those who know where to find it. She looked at the wind and laughed to let it know it could no longer destroy or cover up what she had found.

At long last the sweet dawn came. It came giving form to the formless. A veil of darkness pulled back from the ground, and a veil of blue pulled over distant stars. Between these two blankets of day and night, a moment of truth. A moment when all exists uncovered by veils. Not completely hidden by shadows and not artificially illuminated by light, a moment where all appears as it really is.

This was the moment that was hardest for the little seed to bear, for the exposed truth lay scattered in the mud about her feet. The rosy petals and delicately perfumed blossoms that had beautifully covered the mother tree the previous day now lay torn and lifeless on the ground. Had those who had cried and yelled the previous night known more than she? She had laughed and played when she should have hidden and fled. Instead of joining the wind, she should have joined forces with the others around her. Ignorance and shame filled her heart as she realized what a fool she’s made of herself. She hoped that the darkness of the night had hidden her actions from others, but wasn’t so sure that it had.

Looking around she found there were some who faired far worse than she had which made her feel better. The misfortunes of others should not make anyone feel better, but there is some comfort in not being alone, not being at the bottom of the pile. Sure things are bad, but they could be worse, and anyone can count their blessings and feel fortunate when confronted with what could have been. One entire branch of the mother tree had been ripped from the trunk and lay bruised and broken on the ground. A splintered knife stabbing out of the trunk was all that was left where the branch had been.

Some had faired worse, but some had faired better. There were some who seemed untouched by the wind. Their petals were still intact; their flowers still filled the air with a sweet perfume. How had they survived? Was it because they were in a more sheltered part of the tree than others? Perhaps that was part of the reason for some, but not all. Many unspoiled flowers grew in the sheltered center of the tree, but others grew on the far edge of the tree. Some opened perfect petals amidst torn leaves and barren branches. They were in the wind, but not touched by the wind. It was a strange thing to see something perfect and whole surrounded by carnage and destruction.

Everything changed that night. The first day was one of equality, uniformity, identical seeds all robed in identical rosy flowers. Now each seed was unique. Each had reacted to the wind in a different manner. Then again, perhaps all of the seeds had always been unique. Their similarities were just an illusion that was stripped away by the storm.

Thankfully, before too much more time passed in which the seeds could take stock of their surroundings, and each other, the farmer appeared to relieve those who had fallen of their shame. The ground was raked, the fallen branch disposed of, and torn branches were tied up and mended. After all was cleaned and pruned, a final equalizing act. The farmer gathered the remaining flowers on the tree into a beautiful basket. The gathering of flowers was a joyous occasion for those who had remained untouched. A pang of regret coursed through the hearts of those who no longer held any fluttering petals with which to attract the farmer’s loving hand.

The flowers were all gone, but the seeds remained. Warm spring days lengthened into a long hot summer. The windy night was long past, but not forgotten. Fruit now grew where flowers had been. Branches hung low with the weight of the coming fall harvest. Some fruit grew sharp and wild, others grew sweet and over-ripe. Some fruit grew large and deliciously plump. Other timid souls were scared their stems would be unable to support the weight and were more modest in their endeavors. The little laughing seed no longer laughed after the wind, and no longer tried to stand out from the rest. She grew to an average size on an average branch, doing her best not to call undue attention to herself. She smiled and soaked in the sun with all the other seeds, but inside she was scared. Scared of her past, scared that the farmer’s hand would once more pass her by. She spent her days in silent fear of the harvest…

Not good enough for the farmer’s hand? But perhaps she was good enough for the pallet of fuzzier creatures, creatures that lived down closer to Earth. That is why one day before the harvest she let go of the tree branch and fell with so many others to the ground. She fell to the ground to be carried away by whatever creatures might happen to come. Better to be carried off by a rabbit than allow herself the shame of watching the farmers hand pass her by again.

A mass of broken dead rotting fruit now littered the ground, and the creeping things of the world partook. Was it mentioned earlier that misery loves company? This was more than mere misery though, this was pure wretchedness. This was the bottom of the pile, and there was no thankfulness to be found anywhere in it. She thought it wouldn’t be that bad, she had envisioned cute fluffy bunny rabbits gingerly carrying her away to their quaint little burrows. There were no cute bunny rabbits in sight though. There was only worms, infectious bacteria, rats, scavengers. If only she had stayed on the mother tree! The humility of being rejected by the farmer surely would have been less painful than this. It would have been less shameful for the farmer to see her on the beloved mother tree, than to see her on the ground in this putrid mess.

Of the fruit that remained, only two were harvested for food. Two were enough. Within the desirable nectar of each fruit resided the joys, sorrows, and knowledge of all who had dwelt on the mother tree. The seeds were all connected to one another, they were all nourished by the same roots. Individual fruits born of one tree. To partake of the fruit was to partake of the tree, and through it join with the world that the beloved tree was born out of. Even those seeds who thought they could detach themselves from the tree were still connected to it. Their spoiled fruit seeped into the ground, soaking into the roots. Everyone was in it together, what happened to one happened to all.

The farmer gathered the rest of the fruit that still hung from the mother tree; the fruit that was not scared of his hand, the fruit that trusted his hand. The fruit was not eaten, but the seeds were preserved. They were carefully planted in good ground in a protective nursery to one day become part of a mighty orchard.

The seeds that fell suffered a different fate. Those who feared the farmer, those who did not trust his judgment, these were haphazardly scattered to and fro. Left without a shepherd to protect them they were carried by birds and mice, rain and wind. They were taken across the countryside. Some fell among thorns, some on stony ground, some were left on the wayside. Scattered from the beloved tree, from their perfect home, they were left to themselves to make of their life what they would.

Our little seed found herself washed away down the hill into the babbling brook. The icy autumn waters carried her past field and farmhouse to the edge of the deep dark woods. There her journey was stopped by the protruding roots of old sad evergreen. Grass and mud collected around her, caught in the same tangled network as she, until light faded and disappeared. Darkness encircled her and the sound of the little stream grew fainter and fainter until it disappeared. All was darkness and silence – not the peaceful silence of a warm spring night, the cold oppressive silence of a dungeon.

In darkness the days went by. Weeks came and went, and then months. Time ceased to exist for the little seed for she could see no sunrise. There was no waxing and waning of the moon through which to measure the year. The ground grew cold and frozen. She awoke from restless sleep only to wonder if her nightmares might have been a pleasant escape from reality.

One morning, or night, it was impossible to tell which one, the ground became softened. There was water in the soil instead of ice. The spring water gave her a taste of the outside world and awakened old memories of another existence within her. Life once again stirred within the seed. Her heart longed to break free of her prison. As the water seeped in through her hard outer shell she began to swell and grow. A little swelling and she found she wasn’t merely confined by the earth around her, she was also confined by her own small hard shell. She needed to escape, to escape from the darkness, to escape from herself. Ripping, tearing, cracking, she pushed her way out. There is only one thing more painful then tearing your own thick skin off, and that is the pain of being confined within in. Come what will, she was no longer going to be confined – by anything.

Her disposition had changed from one of laughter and games to one of determined warfare. She would escape this earth. Nothing and no one would stand in her way.

Soon she found she was not the only seed in the neighborhood. It wasn’t long before other arms and legs brushed against her own. “Oh, excuse me!” one would say. “Pardon me” from another, and yet another, “Would you mind if…?” but that is all she allowed them to say. She did not say anything in return. She broke away their arms and legs in return. She broke their arms and legs as she had broken away her own skin. Where they genuinely nice and polite? More likely they were just putting on a show in order to stake their ground. Perhaps she had been confined in the cold hard ground for too long. She had become as cold and hard as the ground she wished to escape from.

She won the dark underground turf wars of coarse. What chance does a prairie grass seed have against a seed who came from a mighty tree? Not much. By the end there was none left to fight. At least there were none who wanted to fight, none who wanted to grow in her neck of the woods. She didn’t care, she had other more important issues at stake. Her goal was to grow up and out of this dirt pile, not make friends in it.

As she fought her way up the oppressive weight from above grew lighter. The earth grew warmer. One day, the sound of the little babbling brook was once more heard in ears which ached from too much silence. Then it was there – blue sky, deep blue sky, the sky she remembered from her youth. Her joy was short lived though. Around her was a circle of barren earth. Earth made barren by her own hands. The glorious blue and purple flowers on the horizon could have been her neighbors. In the darkness of the Earth she had not realized the splendor of those whose arms and legs she had broken. Life is a journey, not just a destination. Victory does not taste sweet when the journey is not enjoyed. Just a means to an end? Malicious "means" always lead to an unhappy end.

It wasn’t all good, but she wouldn't let it be all bad either. She had made mistakes before, you live and you learn, and make the best of what life offers you. Her previous mistake was to give up and stop hoping for something better. This time instead of letting her mistake take her farther down the snake hole, she would use it to try and become something better. Mistakes can either crush you and send you on a downward spiral, or they can cause you to hate evil with a passion so that you try your hardest to get as far away from it as possible. The little seed looked at the barren earth. She looked and within her swelled a hatred of selfishness, a hatred of being uncaring, a hatred hate. She decided then and there not to push others away. Be it noxious thistles or strangling vines, she vowed to never push anyone away from her again.

For years she lived and grew at the edge of the forest by the babbling brook. During the spring the little brook flooded, but during the hot dry days of summer she was grateful for it’s company. The shady forest may have kept her from soaking in all of the sunlight that she wished to have, but the forest also offered protection from the fierce winter winds. There were other seeds who now grew in the fields. She felt sorry for them in the droughts of the summer and bitter coldness of the winter. They no doubt felt sorry for her lot of living in the dark shade with spring floods. Each seed, each tree, each life holds their own unique joys and sorrows. Each life is unique and is refined differently.

She kept her vow never to push anyone away from her again. It didn’t take long for the wind to bring new little seeds to rest at her feet. Most did not last for long. Some seeds came from annuals and were never meant to last more than a year. Other perennials tried to grow for a season but were unable to thrive in the shady damp soil as she was able to. She tried to help them as best as she could by keeping her leaves from taking their sun and standing firmly around them during the spring runoff. Try as she might, she couldn’t give them life though. Sadly she watched one after another wither and return to the earth from whence they came. She could only watch and hope that during their short season they had found and learned what they needed to.

One year an especially prickly and sticky seed arrived to her dark little corner of the world. It had fallen, along with a few feathers, from under the wing of frustrated bird who had angrily removed it while perched on one of her branches. The prickly seed grinned at the bird and with mock politeness thanked it for the ride. The bird huffed and flew off in a temper. The tree laughed at the funny little seed. When was the last time she had laughed? It had been a few years.

Hearing her laugh the prickly seed turned to explain the awkward scene. His words carried with them the poise and elegance of one who was quite accustomed to rationalizing and explaining disturbances to others. “You’ll have to excuse the grumpy nature of the bird,” started the little seed. “That bird is normally a happy chipper fellow, but you know how it goes, we all have our down days. You see we both happened to jump on the same grasshopper at the same time. No one’s to blame, just an honest mistake, I hold no ill feelings for the bird. The bird and I, we’re both on the same side in the grasshopper wars you know. See these spikes? There’s no hopper would dare attack a plant I guard. We're on the same side so no harm, no fowl. That bird will be back to it’s usual self before you know it. Water under the bridge my friend, water under the bridge.”

Looking around, the prickly seed piped up “Say, what’s that over there? Your own never ending supply of fresh clean water? This is a pretty nice place you have here. A little shady I’ll admit, but I tell you that scorching hot sun over there is over-rated. Overrated I tell you.” Then, without missing a beat, the prickly seed started into a lengthy sales pitch about how it would protect the tree from all the “nectar-thirsty good-for-nothing” grasshoppers if the tree would be so kind as to allow it the use of her trunk to support it’s vines in the event that it decided to stay here for awhile. There was something mentioned about how it had a bad back, just genetics, nothing it could help, but that didn’t stop it from being a first rate defender of plants – be they big or small.

After a lengthy narration and much boasting and exhibiting of spikes, it finally came to the end of the sales-pitch. It looked up to the tree with a confident smile, but there was pain written in it's eyes. The pain that is found in someone who understands what it means to be rejected. Was there a broken heart and contrite spirit under those prideful words and puffed out chest? The spirit of another who had experienced rejection might mirror her own. “So what do you think? Do we have a deal?” It energetically thrust out a sticky tendril into the air and held it there, waiting to see if it would be accepted or not. Then, looking down, it sadly whispered “I promise I’ll try not to be too much of a bother…”

The other trees in the forest grew stiff. One whispered in her ear – “you don’t want this kind around, this is the seed of a strangling vine. I feel sorry for it too, but you can’t help it. You might think you’re helping it up, but your not. You’ll only be weighing yourself down.” Another tree whispered “It claims to be able to protect us from grasshoppers. What an ignorant fool. Doesn’t it know there are no grasshoppers here? Everyone knows grasshoppers live in the grasslands, not in the forest. How stupid does it think we are? Giving us a sales pitch like that?” They pretended to discretely whisper, but they whispered loud enough for the little prickly seed to hear. The little prickly seed pretended not to hear, but she knew that it had.

She knew what it was like to be rejected, knew what it was like to be imperfect. If there was no hope for it, then there maybe there was no hope for her either. Looking to those in the forest, she whispered “He’s just a seed, don’t blame it for who it’s parents are. Seeds change. It could change.” She looked it in the eye, held out a branch to the little sticky tendril, and trying to give it some hope said “climb aboard. I haven’t seen any grass hoppers around, but… there might be a few other pests you could help out with."

A promise to not push others away is a hard promise to keep. Either love the one and hate the other, or love the other and hate the one. Was it impossible to love them both? She still loved the trees in the forest, trees who gathered her out of the cold stream and kept her sheltered from the winter winds. She knew they were just trying to look out for her best interests, and they were right. The weight of that vine was going to be heavy to bear. Some trees died under the weight of those vines, but some trees survived too. She had to try though. She didn't want to push anyone away.

They were right about being dragged down by the vine, but she hoped they weren’t right when they said nothing good will come of it. She could send it away, but then what? Spend the rest of her life surrounded by sad sun-starved short-lived annuals? The sticky seed might not be the perfect neighbor, but at least it seemed tough. Maybe it would live a little longer than the others had. She would try and help it, and who knows? Maybe it could help her too. It might help her feel valued and needed for once.

All that year the vine happily grew, and the tree supported it's weight. The blind leading the blind? Perhaps. She had wanted to help the vine, she wanted to change it into something better. She had never been successful in changing anyone though. It was an example of good intentions without experience. It seems the things we have to learn before we can do, we learn by doing. Experience has to be gained somehow. It can be gained through success or through failure.

One of the things that grew to bother the tree, aside from the weight and thorns, was that the vine did not share a love for all living things as the tree did. She could understand a little because in the dark of the earth she did not see the beauty in others either. The vine had promised to chase away all the pests, but was a little mixed up on what a pest was. Butterflies and ladybugs now chose different branches on which to rest their wings. The vine didn’t see their beauty now, but she hoped with time it’s heart would soften. She hoped that it was possible for someone’s heart to be softened slowly and painlessly so she patiently waited. As time went on without seeing any change, she started to think pain and gain might be inseparably connected though. After several months there came a point when she realized she was no longer helping it grow. Instead she was enabling it to comfortably remain within its thick thorny skin. She learned that sometimes the best way to help someone, is not to help them.

Unable to keep fair annuals alive, and unable to change thorns into flowers, she sank into a deep depression. Gazing up to the hill she once more lamented what might have been if she hadn't given up hope in the farmer that long ago windy night on the hill. She lamented what might have been had she listened to the wise old trees and refused to accept the vine's company. Sometimes words are not enough. You have to go and experience a thing for yourself before you will believe the words to be true. She learned the more someone is able to listen and trust others, the fewer painful experiences they must endure.

The ivory mother tree on the hill from whence she came was now surrounded in straight tidy rows of her brothers and sisters who had held on. The elevation of the hill kept them all safe from the floods of the spring, and the farmer kept their thirst quenched in the heat of the summer. They were all the same age and all grew to the same sunny height. No tree cast any shadows over the other. What a perfect wonderful life they all have she thought. If only I had more hope than fear, I could be there now. In fact, she could recognize some who had stayed despite having been touched by the wind. They had not been rejected by the farmer. They had been nurtured and cared for by him.

Seeing her wistfully looking up at the hill the vine got a disgusted look on it’s face. “Stuck up sheltered hot-n-tots” muttered the vine. “Up there on that hill, thinking they’re better than us. They don’t know nothin. Without that farmer pampering them, they’d be dead in a week. The only reason the farmer takes care of them is so he can gorge himself on their fruit. It’s sick I tell you, sick!”

The constant barrage of negative lies and whispers from the vine was starting to really weigh her down. The vine was wrong once again. The farmer hadn’t grown fat eating her brothers and sisters. He hadn't eaten them at all, he’d planted them in the nursery. Were they stuck up and proud? She had hung on the same beloved tree as them once. She had been connected to them and knew they had cried and shaken, knew that they had all been humbled by the storm she had. Would they be dead in a week? True, they owed their existence to the farmer, but they were not weak. She still carried the memory of flowers filling the air with a sweet perfume in the midst of carnage and destruction. They had filled the air with perfume then, and they filled the air with perfume now. In all her years of life untended by the farmer she had never been able to produce a flower, try as she might. They were different though. Some years they seemed to hold more flowers than leaves in their branches. They were not weak trees on the verge of death, they were strong mighty trees filled with beauty and life.

It’s in a plant’s nature, survival instincts, to preserve itself. Survival of the fittest some call it. In order to be the most fit, you have to put everyone else down, you have to see and imagine the worst in others. To admit not being the best, smartest, most talented, fittest in everything is to fall behind in the race and cease to survive. The vine was perhaps just trying to survive.

There is another way to survive though. Survival of the nicest. She once saw a loving mother rabbit slow down and allow herself to be eaten by a fox in order to protect her children. Children who were running as fast as their little legs could carry them just ahead of her. Some protected their genes by fighting others off. The mother rabbit protected her genes through sacrifice rather than warfare, and in the process she had saved more than just her genes. She saved her dignity and honor too, and she had given her children a noble example to live up to. Rabbits certainly were not the fittest fastest fiercest animals in the world, and yet they were among the most successful and numerous. Why did they survive while their predators often did not? They survived because they loved, cared, and sacrificed for one another. They survived because they had big strong families. It wasn't the law of survival of the fittest going on over in the bunny colony. At least it wasn't the type of "fit" that usually comes to mind with that word. A better word to use might be "nice" - it was survival of the nicest, and it seemed to be working out better than anything else.

One spring the tree decided not to be an enabler anymore. She decided to sacrifice herself. She had no children, her sacrifice would not be the noble endeavor of the mother rabbit, but at least she would rid herself of the thorny vine. She would stop being an enabler. During the next spring flood, she released the earth from under her feet and let everything wash away. Once more she fell, once more cold water surrounded her. Once more daylight grew faint and darkness started to close in under dead tangled grass and a broken screaming vine. There was weeping and a gnashing of teeth. There was also peace and freedom. Peace and freedom until the vine croaked out one more hateful vicious whisper.

“It seems the water piled up behind us has grown troublesome for your precious little farmer. You’re little stunt is going to muddy up the clean floors in His house.” The vine’s whispered words caused a stabbing pain to wretch through her gut. She didn’t mean to cause anyone any more trouble, especially the farmer. Horror filled her heart as he plunged into the growing pool of dirty cold water. Shovel in hand he bent down in the mud to dig a sad little tree out of her grave. She tried to stop him, she didn't want him to get hurt and dirty on her account, but she didn’t want to fill his house with muddy water either. He refused to put the shovel down. Once freed from the tangled mess and water she watched in horror as he was swept away in a flood released by a broken dam. His hands bruised, broken, and bloody from pulling thorns off of a little tree.

Three long dark days past by in the shade of the farmer’s vacant house. Days of crying and weeping. He had died for her, sacrificed his life to pull her up out of the water. She was angry at herself. Angry for all of the mistakes she had made, angry that the farmer had died, angry that she hadn't listened to the wise trees of the forest, angry at the wind. Her life had been in vain, worse even. Everyone would have been better off if she’d never lived.

In her bitterness and despair, a soft still voice came floating through the air. “Was it in vain?” whispered the voice. “What?” she replied. That voice had taken her off guard, she had thought she was alone. How embarrassing that someone else was there listening to her blubber. “Was it in vain?” spoke the voice again. “Was His death in vain?” She didn’t answer the question out loud, but in her mind she thought “if His death was to save the wretched twisted life that I’ve become, then yes, I guess it was in vain.” Then his voice came again, only this time it wasn’t soft. It came with power and force into every fiber of her being. “Your life was not in vain, and neither was His.”

She turned around, and there He was. She didn’t know how it was possible, yet there He was. Alive and glorious with fire in His eyes wearing a clean dry white robe. Softening his voice he smiled and said “You’re now a tree of knowledge.” Then, gathering her up in scarred hands, a determined look on his face, he matter-of-factly said “You belong with others of your kind. Come with me. I’ll make you into a tree of life.”

As He carried her across the grassy field, He began to sing a song. Old memories emerged from a cloudy veil and she began to sing too. Softly at first, then louder and louder the chorus swelled. Sorrow and mourning had passed away. With everlasting joy and singing they made their way up towards a familiar hill.

The next spring came early. Her heart ached for the little seeds which hid beneath rosy petals at her fingertips. She reveled in finally knowing how to give life to another, but she hurt at the thought of the pain they would go through. She cradled them in her arms and sang them a soft lullaby….

Come, come, ye seeds, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell -
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
if we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell-
All is well! All is well!

We'll find the place which God for us prepared,
Far away, in the West,
Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
There the seeds, will be blessed.
We'll make the air, with music ring, Shout praises to our God and King;
Above the rest these words we'll tell -
All is well! All is well!

And should we die before our journey's through,
Happy day! All is well!
We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!
But if our lives are spared again to see other seeds their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell-
All is well! All is well!

- 1846, William clayton
Come Come ye Saints link

It’s ok little seeds, a small moment to bear…
Then robes of knowledge and power you’ll wear.
With hope and with faith and with love you can see,
You can spend your life living by your dear Parent’s tree.
You don't have to fall, you can hold on and stay,
Your flowers can adorn a beautiful bouquet.
This life will be filled with some shadows and pains,
But you don’t have to let the wind's vines be your chains.
Never feel uncertain of the good farmer’s hand,
Just wait and be patient, know one day you’ll stand,
Side by side on the top of a glorious hill
A crown on your head, knowledge and life to distil.

(does anyone out there have any picts of an orchard I could use???)

OK – thinking about it, that parable ended up being really dark. I think I need to go back and start over with two little seeds handing on the branch instead of one. One little seed will travel/live on the light side of life, and the other little seed will end up in the vines – so a comparison can be made… Life isn’t that horrible – sorry everyone! Next time I’ll sleep on it before I post it ;).

LOL – before Lewis wrote Screwtape he wanted to write a different book – instead of demons, it was going to be angels trying to convert people. He didn’t know enough about angels to write that one though… I didn’t intend for it to be a Screwtape type book :(. I’ll try again next week.