Oooooh. Ouch. Yikes.
He reached upward, pushing against the darkness that had closed in and surrounded him from the very moment in time when, at last, he had managed to escape his pod. His progress was slow and painful. His skin had protected him for a long time, but since his “coming out” celebration, he had been left exposed to all the brutality of an unfriendly environment.
Ooof, that smarts.
He inched around a rock embedded deep into the earth; his tender white shoot cringing from contact with rough stoney edges.
Come on, you can do it. Push, baby, push. PUSH!
All of a sudden, all resistance ceased. He had broken through to the surface. Something tickled, gently pushing him back and forth. Somehow there was a sense that here lurked no threat of suffocating shale or wiggling worm. He was crowned with warmth and dryness where cold and dank had reigned for so, so long.
Rest. Gotta rest a bit. Coming out is tough. Need a nap…
But napping wasn’t part of the plan. Tired or not, the little shoot, inspired by forces beyond himself, began to move again. From below, his feet clawed downward, deeper into the soil. And his tender little head reached for the sky, yearning for the sun.
The frail plant was soon to learn that the danger already encountered and overcome below the ground, was nothing compared to what lay in wait above ground. Half downed, he choked and sputtered during heavy spring rains. Monsters alighted on his head and attacked by hoof, foot and fang. And then, through the sultry summer, a friend turned foe …
How can you treat me so? You warmed my meager being not long ago and now your heat consumes me, hurts me, leaves me breathless and wilted. Why?
With supernatural strength, the sapling reached down again, stretching his feet; sucking in through his toes whatever dampness he could find, until …
Oooooh, that feels so good; like damp, but more so. Come on in, delightful deliciousness, and fill my sapped sapling self.
With the entrance of the water he had found as his roots reached down and out, the now-not-so-little shoot raised his head and stretched his arms. The friendly fire of the sun smiled on his brilliant green adolescence and promised peace between them.
Summers faded and then flourished once again. The sapling fleshed out; growing strong nourished by the water and warmed by the sun. He was big enough now to remain unmoved by passing animals that brushed up against him. Birds perched in his branches, but didn’t yet stay to nest. Two-footed creatures walked around him rather than over him. He stood tall and straight.
How odd. Others of my kind have cracked the surface of the earth and grown but now they lie beaten and broken on the ground, lifeless and dry. Why do I remain here, supple and strong, when others die? I prosper, and they do not.
This conundrum of creation haunted the young tree. He couldn’t see below the rich, black soil that held his feet firmly planted. He could only feel the juicy wetness that seeped into his roots from the stream nearby; that unfailingly carried to his great heart the nutrients he required to be strong when he needed to be, and to bend when he had to.
As the seasons passed, the emerald green of his leaves matured and darkened. His arms became strong enough to shelter nests and generations of baby birds were launched from those branches. He took in boarders as squirrels built their homes within his body. He quietly and patiently endured the persistent battering suffered at the beaks of a family of woodpeckers. They all prospered because he prospered.
I am content. I have fought my way up from the earth, battled all my foes, resisted all the elements, been both beautiful and useful. Life is good.
The tree stretched his feet, moving deeper yet into the soil of the riverbank; an old habit, but something he never took for granted. For with the passage of time, he had come to understand that the abundance of his life was indelibly connected with that stream. He reached down and took another drink.
“Blessed is the man … [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord … He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3 NIV)
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