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.

Meditation on the vine as tree of life — connector and source — themes of hope from Hebrew scriptures, Gospel of John ‘I Am’ statements and more.

Around existence twine,
(Oh, bridge that hangs across the gorge!)
ropes of twisted vine.
—  Matsuo Basho

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

Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. … I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen. — Epictetus

The wine of Love is music, And the feast of Love is song:
And when Love sits down to the banquet, Love sits long:
Sits long and rises drunken, But not with the feast and the wine;
He reeleth with his own heart, That great, rich vine.
James Thomson

Questions to consider:

  • What is essential to staying connected?
  • With whom do you need to connect? Yourself? Family? Friends? Other people? Creation? Holy love, by whatever Name you know and call it?
  • How have your forms of connection changed in the past few weeks? What works best? What do you miss?
  • How is love reaching out to you? How are you showing love?
  • What sort of role do trees play in your life? What tree do you connect with?
  • What’s your favorite song about or image of a tree?

Vine & Tree Songs:


I drank at every vine, the last was like the first.
I came upon no wine so wonderful as thirst.
— Edna St. Vincent Millay

Upon your shattered ruins where
This vine will flourish still, as rare,
As fresh, as fragrant as of old.
Love will not crumble.
—  Eleanor Farjeon

Every object, every being, is a jar full of delight.
Be a connoisseur, and taste with caution.
Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,
the ones unadulterated with fear,
or some urgency about “what’s needed.”
Drink the wine that moves you as a camel moves
when it’s been untied, and is just ambling about.
― Rumi

VINE as CONNECTOR & SOURCE of LIFE

Here it is in a nutshell: Old vines yield more concentrated fruit, resulting in richer wines with more sumptuous balance … Deep roots are a big asset too … — Beppi Crosario
 
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants – while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid. — George Washington
 
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy. — Benjamin Franklin

Today I begin a new life. Today I shed my old skin which hath, too long, suffered the bruises of failure and the wounds of mediocrity. Today I am born anew and my birthplace is a vineyard where there is fruit for all. — Og Mandino

Vines and trees will teach you that which you will never learn from masters. — Bernard of Clairvaux

A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander. ― Roman Payne
 
… you have vines and stars in your hair … ― Pablo Neruda
 
You are but a tiny cluster upon the vines of heaven, where the grapes are worlds; yet you hold the power to ripen your bitter berries and add to the eternal vintage of cosmic sweetness if so you will.  ― Eden Phillpotts
 
I guess it’s the same way trees grow around the very vines that are killing them, so they’re strangled and sustained all at once.  ― Lauren Oliver

Everything, a horse, a vine, is created for some duty. For what task, then, were you yourself created? A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for. ― Marcus Aurelius

 Plant no tree sooner than the vine. — attributed to Horace
 
O Love, what hours were thine and mine, In lands of palm and southern pine; In lands of palm, of orange-blossom, Of olive, aloe, and maize, and vine. — Alfred Tennyson

Water is the mother of the vine, The nurse and fountain of fecundity, The adorner and refresher of the world. — Charles Mackay

Christian Commentary on VINE METAPHOR

Of all trees, I observe God hath chosen the vine, a low plant that creeps upon the helpful wall; of all beasts, the soft and patient lamb; of all fowls, the mild and guileless dove. Christ is the rose of the field, and the lily of the valley. When God appeared to Moses, it was not in the lofty cedar nor the sturdy oak nor the spreading palm; but in a bush, a humble, slender, abject shrub; as if He would, by these elections, check the conceited arrogance of man. — Owen Feltham

The vine . . . is not the root merely, but all – root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit: and Jesus is not only that: He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we ever dreamed, wished for, or needed. — James Hudson Taylor
 
isn’t it wonderful that two of the most sacred and symbolic plants, the olive and the vine, live on almost nothing, a terrace of limestone, sun and rain … —   Janet Erskine Stuart

Happiness is a vine that takes root and grows within the heart, never outside it. —  Khalil Gibran

Looking closely, we see the many entwined branches, winding their way around one another in intricate patterns of tight curls that make it impossible to tell where one branch starts or another one ends. This is not just intricate; it’s intimate, and the vine shares with its branches the nutrients that sustain it, the life force of the whole plant … this vine is one with the branches … we find the best grapes close in to the vine, “where the nutrients are the most concentrated.” … This kind of abiding … showers us with “shalom, which speaks of wholeness, completeness, and health.” Here, close to the vine, immersed in shalom, we find not only nourishment but also hope and joy. 
— Kathryn Matthews

The duty of the branch is to cling to the vine. —  Max Lucado

Affliction brings out graces that cannot be seen in a time of health. It is the treading of the grapes that brings out the sweet juices of the vine; so it is affliction that draws forth submission, weanedness from the world, and complete rest in God. Use afflictions while you have them. —  Robert E. Murray

The biblical quote “each man under his own vine and fig tree” has been used to denote peace and prosperity. — Jennifer, Thoughts & Visions blogger

TREE of LIFE Across Cultures

For you placed the salvation of the human race on the wood of the Cross, so that, where death arose, life might again spring forth and the evil one, who conquered on a tree, might likewise on a tree be conquered, through Christ our Lord. — Liturgy of the Exaltation of the Cross (preface)

THE HISTORY OF THE TREE OF LIFE SYMBOL one tribe apparel & treeremoval.com (these pop commcercial sites, the info has not been validated)

As a symbol, the Tree of Life … oldest known example was found in the Domuztepe excavations in Turkey, which dates back to about 7000 BC. … A similar depiction of the tree was discovered in the Acadians, which dates back to 3000 BC. The symbols depicted a pine tree, and because pine trees do not die, the symbols are believed to be the first depictions of the Tree of Life.  

The Tree of Life also has strong significance to the Ancient Celts. It represented harmony and balance and was an important symbol in the Celtic culture. They believed it had magical powers so when they cleared their lands, they would leave one single tree standing in the middle. They would hold their important gatherings under this tree and it was a very serious crime to cut it down.  

Multiple cultures have different mythologies involving the Tree of Life. References to the symbol have been found in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Iran, Ancient Mesopotamia and Urartu, and many more places. …

Buddhism – In Buddhism, the Tree of Life is known as the Bhodi-tree and is believed to be the Tree of Enlightenment.

Celtic Beliefs – The Tree of Life is a representation harmony and balance in nature. The Tree of Life, to the Celts, symbolized strength, a long life, and wisdom. The tree also represents rebirth, as it will lose its leaves during the fall season, hibernate throughout the winter, and will be reborn again once spring arrives. The Celts also believed that they actually came from trees, and considered them magical, living beings. Trees were said to guard the land and acted as a doorway into the spirit world. The Tree of Life connects the lower and upper worlds as its roots grow far down while its branches reach high. The tree trunk connects both of these worlds to the Earth’s plane. It was with this connection of worlds, that it was said that people are able communicate with the gods in the heavens using the Tree of Life.

Norse  … believed the source of all life on Earth was a world ash tree they called Yggdrasil. In the Norse tradition, the Tree of Life led to nine different worlds including the land of Fire, world of the dead (Hel) and the land of the Aesir (Asgard). Nine was an important number in both Norse and Celtic cultures.

The Mayans – According to this Mesoamerican culture, a mystical mountain on Earth was hiding Heaven. A World Tree connected Heaven, Earth and the Underworld and grew at the point of creation. Everything flowed out from that spot in four directions (North, South, East & West). On the Mayan Tree of Life there is a cross in the centre which is the source of all creation.

Ancient Egypt – The Egyptians believed that the Tree of Life was the place where life and death were enclosed. East was the direction of life whereas West was the direction of death and the underworld. In Egyptian Mythology, Isis and Osiris (also known as ‘the first couple’) emerged from the Tree of Life.

Christianity – The Tree of Life is featured in the Book of Genesis and is described as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which was planted in the Garden of Eden. … The term ‘Tree of Life’ appears another 11 times in subsequent books of the Bible.

China – There is a Taoist story in Chinese Mythology which describes a magical peach tree that only produces a peach ever 3,000 years. The individual who happens to eat this fruit becomes immortal. There is a dragon at the base of this Tree of Life and a phoenix on top.

Islam – The Tree of Immortality is mentioned in the Qu’ran and is different from the Biblical account insofar as only one tree is mentioned in Eden which was forbidden … by Allah. The Hadith do mention other trees in heaven and while the tree symbol plays a fairly minor role in the Quran, it became an important symbol in Muslim art and architecture and is also one of the most developed symbols in Islam. In the Quran, there are a trio of supernatural trees: The Infernal Tree (Zaquum) in Hell, The Lote Tree (Sidrat al-Muntaha) of the Uttermost Boundary and the Tree of Knowledge which is in the Garden of Eden. In the Hadith, the different trees are combined into one symbol.

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