Tree of Life

William Loader

It began as a tiny seed
looking just like another grain of sand,
but hidden in the warming earth,
then expanding, breaking its fragile casing
to put one small finger up and another down
and gently push as moisture gave it strength,
till it rolled away the surface sands
and waved a single green leaf in the breeze.
In days and weeks its arms reached higher and feet sank deeper
and in months and years the tiny seed became a sapling tree,
larger than any one of us and reaching for the sky.
It learned the seasons of smiling warm sun and greeted it with blossom.
Summer hardened its fruit ready for autumn’s falling
and the showers of leaves in winter winds.
The rains are kind.
Moisture deep in the soil pours upwards
through the upright channels of the trunk
to paint the world with coloured foliage
and whisk off into the atmosphere.
The open branches welcome visitors,
squawking birds, busy insects and crawling things.
The canopy gives shade to all below for rest and relief.
It holds its mystery within,
behind the rugged bark or soft new coating.
What does it feel when the storms crash through,
snapping limbs and bending straight stems to a bow?
Where can it go when wounds heal so slowly
and pests of infection gnaw at its life?
How can it stand when buffeted by sudden unexpected gusts,
burnt by searing sun or chilled icy cold by frosty nights?
Its youth is fast growing and strong. In age the wood turns hard.
Struggles with frailty become more frequent.
There is romance in birds finding their homes in broken limbs and dying has its secret joys.
Beyond imagining, in distant time, this mighty tree will become earth again
and merge into new settings,
providing new possibilities
for new seeds and
new beginnings.
Tree of life,
do you tell
our story?
Do you know what we are celebrating this Christmas time?