Reflections on tree of life as outgrowth of wisdom: themes from Proverbs

On Wisdom

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. — Reinhold Niebuhr

As a tree produces fruit, wisdom gives life to those who use it, and everyone who uses it will be happy. — Proverbs 3:18

Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. — Doris Lessing

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. — Lao Tzu

It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said ‘do the best you can with these, they will have to do’. And mostly, against all odds, they do. ― Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right, and noticing what happens when that practice succeeds and when it fails. ― Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

I’m planting a tree to teach me to gather strength from my deepest roots. ― Andrea Koehle Jones, The Wish Trees

When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and hope. — Wangari Maathai, The Green Belt Movement

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. —  Proverbs 13:12

Maybe you are searching in the branches for what only appears in the roots. — Rumi

As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications. ― Charles Darwin

The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
They hear the first and last of every Tree
Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside the River.
― Maya Angelou

We spring from one great tree of life; when the root of the tree is watered with love, we all thrive. ― Janet Autherine

Pruning – Johanna Herrick

I prune my lime tree
under the luminous moon
of early evening. The citrus
smell of broken leaves
is pungent and wonderful.
I know the cutting will make
the tree stronger, more beautiful.
It trusts me and responds to the pain,
for already, even the order of shaping
has produced a different mood for us;
the discarded sprigs on the ground
ring the tree like a variegated lime lei,
my offering to this faithful tree,
my promise that things will change
between us.

As I pause in the process —
breathe, observe, feel —
I encounter the tree, ceasing
to be an “it”and transforming
itself into Buber’s “Thou.”
In this new, reciprocal relationship,
we move toward holiness, the tree and I,
as I whisper, “You, tree.”

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