Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Trees (12/05/05)
By Kris St. James
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All around me was dark, cold and damp. I lay for a time, waiting. Waiting. Then I died.
Before I could see the sun and feel the wind and taste the rain, I had to die. I had to die so that I could be born. I know that sounds strange to say and hear, but it is a fact. One moment I was waiting and then suddenly I died and was brought from the darkness, from Sheol, by The Creator. No longer was I blind or lame or deaf or mute. I was alive.
The sun filled me with warmth and I could see, my eyes opened for the first time. The rain slaked my thirst. The wind caressed and cradled me, lulling me to sleep. I slept.
As I grew, my body stretched and reached high toward my Creator in the heavens. My limbs became thicker, longer, stronger. My tender leaves sprouted, green and supple. Each day in the magnificent sun was sheer joy. Its warmth on my skin and limbs and leaves reassured me: I was alive and this was not a dream.
The rain washed me clean over and over, filling the rich earth around me and I drank. The wind rocked me in the evenings and soothed me with its whispers all night. Birds began to build and I watched in wonder as each stick was carefully laid; as each egg was carefully laid. I listened intently to their birth-song as the babies hatched and it brought back many memories of my exodus from my grave. It would be some time before I bore fruit.
Twelve years passed; sun, rain, wind, earth, moon, and stars. Many birds enjoyed the safety of my branches. Many Men with their flocks took refuge in my shade. I became more and more aware of the other trees around me. Most were like me, but many were different. Something like that may seem obvious, but it indeed took twelve years before I understood that fact. I was always aware of their existence, but it was their uniqueness that now became apparent. I inquired of the elders about the others. This is what they said:
There are many, many different kinds of trees. All have a purpose given to them by The Creator. Some have played very important parts, some were minor, but all brought glory to Him.
The Cypress provided safe passage for Noah from the Great Flood. The Shittah provided safe keeping for The Law. The Broom provided shade and comfort for Elijah. The Cedars of Lebanon were used to build Solomon's Temple. Dates, Olives, Apples and Figs feed Man, and our bones make their homes and fires. Your purpose will bring glory to The Creator.
I began to deeply consider all these things, although I could not imagine what my purpose might be.
These thoughts dwelled within me until the thirty-third year of my life. Still, nothing came to mind that answered my question: what am I for? I continued to serve the birds and beetles and sheep and Men, providing shelter and food and shade. I continued to grow, reaching toward Heaven so that I might inquire of The Creator what was my purpose.
One day there was a sudden great commotion in my field and I heard many Men approaching, but they continued on. I could hear their chop chop chop chop as they fell my brethren; as their purposes were fulfilled. I watched and listened, but could not determine their use.
As I intently watched and listened to the Men, another approached. He was clearly different. He was stricken with agony; cursed. He staggered and stumbled and his cry bled from him as a curling smoke from an extinguished fire. His hands were cold and calloused on my skin as he leaned against me, sobbing. I felt his hot tears as he slowly climbed into my arms. He fastened a cord around me and then around his own neck and fell and hung and died. My purpose.
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