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Thomas Luter

A Leaf is Not a Tree



Whether in this world or out of it, I do not know but I saw a tree - a tree more massive and more beautiful than ever beheld by human kind of any generation. Its span seemed endless, its branches more in number than the planets in the sky and its sparkling leaves more than the stars in the universe. Without reserve or a thought, I ran to the tree to embrace its massive trunk and feel its bark and rest in its  shelter from the burning sun of the years of my life.  

Nearing the tree there was a sweet smelling frangrance, whether from its leaves, its yet unseen blossoms, or from the elixir of its healing oil, I do not know but its bouquet was intoxicating.

Having found a gift of unmeasurable presence, its irresistible  beauty and mighty trunk beckoned me to climb, to become part of its life and to touch, feel and immerse myself in its great gifts of its thousands of years of life. 

So, climb I did. You would think that it would be impossible to scale a tree of its size but, like a child clinging to his mother’s waist, I grabbed on to the trunk and began what would seem an endless journey up and up and up. I was amazed at the ease of the beginning. Perhaps it was the excitement of the find, perhaps it was because I was young and strong, perhaps it was because the tree was helping me.

Before long I came to an intersection of huge proportions where I had to make a decision. There was something almost threatening at that first apex. Dare I go further? Which way should I choose?  Why do I have to choose? Maybe I should just return? But the heady excitement prodded me on and I chose a huge trunk jetting off to the left. Before long another decision was presented to me, and another and another.  The choices seemed endless as I rose higher and higher and further and further from the beauty I felt at the first gift of knowing the tree. And at each fork in the tree as each branch became smaller and weaker, I became more weary of my footing and of my decision to accept the invitation and to leave the loving embrace of the strong and healthy.  But beyond all good sense and warnings I stepped onward with a fear that felt almost unholy.

Why then, I asked myself, did I continue?  I had come years and years up the tree and even though the threat to continue seemed insane, I marched on. The limbs began to sag beneath my weight but I was allowed to go on to a point where I finally stopped and looked down to the centuries old and distant trunk still supporting me even here at the last and most delicate twig on to which I was determined to step.  I wanted to reach the last leaf. I stepped and was held by some miracle of time and place and I bent down to touch the leaf at the very top of the tree only to see a infinitesimally small bud sprouting from the last leaf standing. The sadness was overwhelming. 

What happened to the tree?  This is just a leaf, and yet another a bud.  Why did I come so far and leave the base of the tree where I lovingly embraced the whole. Why wasn’t I content to remain on the fertile ground where I could drink in all of its beauty?  Why did I come this far to see a leaf that doesn’t resemble a tree?  

Crawl back down to your roots, Brother Seekers, and behold once again forever the whole Faith.