Meditations following Easter Sunday with themes about the Tree of Life

TREE of LIFE MEDITATIONS

The tree of life is growing where the spirit never dies, and the bright light of salvation shines in dark and empty skies. — Bob Dylan

I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole earth will become One Circle again. — Crazy Horse


On the Pulse of Morning — Maya Angelou

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words

Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out to us today, you may stand upon me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song. It says,
Come, rest here by my side.

Each of you, a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace, and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the rock were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.
The River sang and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. 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.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you,
Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of
Other seekers—desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Arab, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot,
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought,
Sold, stolen, arriving on the nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am that Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours—your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands,
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For a new beginning.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out and upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here, on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, and into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope—
Good morning.

Reflections on the Tree of Life

Don’t ever worry about losing those you love. Just remember that we are all on the same Tree of Life. ― Iva Kenaz

I’m planting a tree to teach me to gather strength from my deepest roots … I’m planting a tree to remind me to be open and kindhearted. ― Andrea Koehle Jones

Love is the sap of the tree of Life. ― Banani Ray

My heart ached to embark on a journey of liberation and taste of the Tree of Life where saint and sinner are one in love. Every saint has a story, and all sinners have glorious pages yet to be written. ― R.J. Blizzard

We are the Guardians of the Tree of Life. We have been given the blessing and honour to protect it and to help others to taste its fruits with love and compassion. The Tree of Life teaches us to carry and share “Love” and only “Love”. And so,the light of Love should shine through our eyes. Arrogance, Pride, Anger, Hatred, Criticism, Lust, Envy and Jealousy is a heavy burden to carry on our shoulder. They are the enemies of truth and are the most dangerous inner diseases of the heart and with such disease we will be prevented from entering paradise on the Day of Judgment. Sometimes among us, we may encounter many challenging disagreements and difficulties. And to overcome those problems or to bring any change for good … Love is the only force of change and transformation. Love can penetrate the driest heart releasing river of compassion and forgiveness. Let love and only love be the instrument of change. ― Ricky Saikia

Islam calls that ’the roots of heaven.’ and to the Mexican Indians it is the ‘tree of life’ — the thing that makes both of them fall on their knees and raise their eyes and beat their tormented breasts. A need for protection and company, from which obstinate people like Morel try to escape by means of petitions, fighting committees, by trying to take the protection of species in their own hands. Our needs for justice, for freedom and dignity— are roots of heaven that are deeply embedded in our hearts, but of heaven itself men know nothing but the gripping roots … ― Romain Gary

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

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Jesus took the tree of death so you could have the tree of life. — Timothy Keller

The greatest attribute of God is Love. The Tree of Life is located in the very depth of our soul. The most perfect and abundant fruit that grows and ripens is Life giving Love; it is the great healing force in the world. Love never fails to meet every demand of the human heart. The Divine principal of Love may be used to eliminate every sorrow, infirmity, in-harmony, ignorance and all mistakes of mankind. Love is God; eternal, limitless, changeless, infinite. It is the pulse of the world, the heartbeat of the Universe. — Baird T. Spalding

Tree of Life Scriptures
(selection)

Genesis 2:9
Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Proverbs 3:18
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
    those who hold her fast are called happy.

Proverbs 11:30
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
    but violence takes lives away.

Psalm 1:2-3
2 but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law they meditate day and night.
3 They are like trees
    planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
    and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.

Isaiah 60:21
21 Your people shall all be righteous;
    they shall possess the land forever.
They are the shoot that I planted, the work of my hands,
    so that I might be glorified.

2 Esdras 8:52
 52 because it is for you that paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the age to come is prepared, plenty is provided, a city is built, rest is appointed, goodness is established and wisdom perfected beforehand.

Revelation 22: 1-5
22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; 4 they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Jesus as Vine, People as Branches:
A Tree of Life Parallel

John 15: 1-12
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become[c] my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Cross as a Tree

Luke 23: 26-32
26 As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.

Reflections, music, poems & prayers about the work of peace in observance of MLK Weekend & pending 2021 presidential inauguration.

PRAYER of MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

God grant that we wage the struggle with dignity and discipline. May all who suffer oppression in this world reject the self-defeating method of retaliatory violence and choose the method that seeks to redeem. Amen.

Music about peace & advocacy:


Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love.
— Leonard Cohen

Prayer — Black Elk

Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice.
You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer.
All things belong to you — the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live.
You have set the powers of the four quarters of the earth to cross each other.
You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy.
Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things.
Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice.
At the center of the sacred hoop
You have said that I should make the tree to bloom.
With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather,
With running eyes I must say
The tree has never bloomed
Here I stand, and the tree is withered.
Again, I recall the great vision you gave me.
It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives.
Nourish it then
That it may leaf
And bloom
And fill with singing birds!
Hear me, that the people may once again
Find the good road
And the shielding tree.

DOVE as SYMBOL of PEACE

We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart. ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

When angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts. — Mary Baker Eddy
 
  
Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation; others in a man. I believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished, by millions of solitary individuals whose … works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. — Albert Camus

The more bombers the less room for doves of peace. — Nikita Khrushchev

I had a dove and the sweet dove died; And I have thought it died of grieving: O, what could it grieve for? Its feet were tied, With a silken thread of my own hands’ weaving. — John Keats

I say love, and the world populates itself with doves. — Pablo Neruda

A Brave and Startling Truth
— Maya Angelou

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

GANDHI’S PRAYER FOR PEACE
I offer you peace
I offer you love
I offer you friendship
I see your beauty
I hear your need
I feel your feelings
My wisdom flows from the highest source
I salute that source in you
Let us work together
For unity and peace.

MORE PRAYERS by MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Thou Eternal God, out of whose absolute power and infinite intelligence the whole universe has come into being, we humbly confess that we have not loved thee with our hearts, souls and minds, and we have not loved our neighbors as Christ loved us. We have all too often lived by our own selfish impulses rather than by the life of sacrificial love as revealed by Christ. We often give in order to receive. We love our friends and hate our enemies. We go the first mile but dare not travel the second. We forgive but dare not forget. And so as we look within ourselves, we are confronted with the appalling fact that the history of our lives is the history of an eternal revolt against you. But thou, O God, have mercy upon us. Forgive us for what we could have been but failed to be. Give us the intelligence to know your will. Give us the courage to do your will. Give us the devotion to love your will. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Dearest Jesus, come and sit with us today. Show us the lies that are still embedded in the soul of America’s consciousness. Unmask the untruths we have made our best friends. For they seek our destruction. And we are being destroyed, Lord. Reveal the ways the lies have distorted and destroyed our relationships. They break your shalom . . . daily. Jesus, give us courage to embrace the truth about ourselves and you and our world. Truth: We are all made in your image. Truth: You are God; we are not. You are God; money is not. You are God; jails, bombs and bullets are not. And Jesus, give us faith to believe: Redemption of people, relationships, communities and whole nations is possible! Give us faith enough to renounce the lies and tear down the walls that separate us with our hands, with our feet, and with our votes! Amen.

Oh God, we thank Thee for the creative insights in the universe. We thank Thee for the lives of great saints and prophets in the past, who have revealed to us that we can stand up amid the problems and difficulties and trials of life and not give in. We thank Thee for our forebears, who’ve given us something in the midst of the darkness of exploitation and oppression to keep going. And grant that we will go on with the proper faith and the proper determination of will, so that we will be able to make a creative contribution to this world and in our lives. In the name and spirit of Jesus we pray. Amen.

WORK of PEACE

Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways. — Dalai Lama XIV

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead

If you want to end the war then Instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers. — Malala Yousafzai

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. — Victor Frankl

Though force can protect in emergency, only justice, fairness, consideration and cooperation can finally lead men to the dawn of eternal peace. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.
—  John F. Kennedy

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding. —Albert Einstein

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. — Nelson Mandela

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. — Robert F. Kennedy

We aren’t passengers on Spaceship Earth. We’re the crew. We aren’t residents on this planet. We’re citizens. The difference in both cases is responsibility. — Apollo Astronaut Rusty Schweickart

… I am fully committed to the oneness of humanity. If we share these common feelings, then we will have no ground for violence or war. It’s difficult but possible to achieve, through education, not through prayer. I met someone who asked me, please pray. I said, I am a Buddhist, I have a daily practice of prayer but I do not believe prayer brings a peaceful world. We can keep praying for a thousand years and nothing will happen. We should be realistic. If you have the opportunity to meet the Buddha or Jesus Christ, ask them to bring peace to this world and they will certainly ask you, who creates violence? If god created violence, then yes, it’s relevant to appeal to god. I am certain that Buddha and Jesus Christ would tell us, you have created the problem, so it’s your responsibility to solve it. Work for peace, the easy thing to do is pray. — Dalai Lama

Advent Daily Devotional: Day 7

Sat, Dec 5 – DAY 7

Lighting the candle requires multiple tools and actions. Hands to manipulate the match and candle. Fuel to ignite the spark. Oxygen to feed the flame. All these elements exemplify interconnection and dependency on each other in order to move from potential to reality.

            Hope permits us to seek connection and support. Hope suggests that we are never alone. God is present to us. And we are designed to be in community with others.

            Tangible hope shows up as relationships. Embodied by family, friends, and community. Showing up through family, partners, companions, classmates, collaborators, colleagues, care providers, mentors, peers or acquaintances. Put into practice by churches, schools, workplaces, classrooms, creative spaces, teams, workshops, clubs, charitable organizations, or public agencies.

            Hope invites vulnerability and models strength through these connections. Hope admits that we require help. Says we don’t know all the answers or have enough resources to do it alone. Acknowledges that we belong to each other and need each other. Hope reaches out to offer or opens up to receive support and connection.

— Rev Gail

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words. — Psalm 119:147

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
Maya Angelou

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. — Nelson Mandela

Advent Day 7: Daily Devotional

Lighting the candle requires multiple tools and actions. Hands to manipulate the match and candle. Fuel to ignite the spark. Oxygen to feed the flame. All these elements exemplify interconnection and dependency on each other in order to move from potential to reality.

Hope permits us to seek connection and support. Hope suggests that we are never alone. God is present to us. And we are designed to be in community with others.

Tangible hope shows up as relationships. Embodied by family, friends, and community. Showing up through family, partners, companions, classmates, collaborators, colleagues, care providers, mentors, peers or acquaintances. Put into practice by churches, schools, workplaces, classrooms, creative spaces, teams, workshops, clubs, charitable organizations, or public agencies.

Hope invites vulnerability and models strength through these connections. Hope admits that we require help. Says we don’t know all the answers or have enough resources to do it alone. Acknowledges that we belong to each other and need each other. Hope reaches out to offer or opens up to receive support and connection. — Rev Gail

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words. — Psalm 119:147

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.
Maya Angelou

Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future. — Nelson Mandela

Thurs, Nov 26 Gratitude Reflection (Thanksgiving Day)

Notice what is still and calm, without motion or activity. Give thanks for this aspect of your world.

            A lake or pond, for instance, reflects like a mirror when still. It gives back the world to itself. It echoes and returns what is offered to it.

            A boulder or stone ledge has no voice. Such rock scapes show traces of age and reveal the record of geological events via their exposed layers. Yet they remain mute, silent, and seemingly permanent. They are tangible, solid, and ever-present: a source of serenity and assurance.

            What is still in your life? Calm? A place or way that is rooted, or centered, simply by its existence?

            Give thanks for stillness, for calm. Appreciate the opportunity to pause all the motion and remain in one place. — Rev Gail

Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. —Mark 4:39

The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed. — Maya Angelou

Resentment indicates we are still trying to fill the emptiness with something we think we deserve. Gratitude is the sign that God has filled the hole; indeed, that God has become the Whole in Whom we live, move, and have our being. – Steve Harper

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