Posted by: hopeofanotherworld | October 6, 2008

The life of a Harding tree

I remember, when I was very young, there was a forest around me.  There were other trees like me, others bigger, and more of different kinds.  Then man decided to clear the forest, many were felled but I was lucky or cursed to stay (one can look at it one way or another).  A few other trees were left as well but they were so far away that I could not hear their voices in a breeze but only in a strong wind.  I grew, the other few grew, and man caused things to grow around me.  A little school was born and I was there at its birth.  Young women began to walk to and fro beneath my branches, many did not stop for long because my shade was not yet very much, but I heard pieces of their conversations, saw bits of their lives unfold.  Though I still missed my kin, I began to love these gentle beings, who, though they were so small tried to live such big lives and were never content to stay in one place for long.  I grew and the school began to change, there were more teachers and with some of them came children.  The children would climb in my branches, I would hold them safe and firm and gently rock them in the breeze.  So much laughter and energy, so much going on that was a little bit of a consolation when I saw more of my kin fall.  They fell but I stayed, I was a bit lonely but I knew the felling meant more buildings would grow up, more young people would come, and I would get to be a small part of their lives.

Young men began to come to the college, they were not so gentle, and the college had changed its name.  I was now big enough that my shade was sought and sometimes my shelter was briefly used during times of storm.  Men and women sat in my shade, lovers and friends.  Sometimes still, boys would climb, but not nearly as often as my younger days because I was growing too big.  Years and years, drifting by, my leaves growing and falling, my roots spreading until they, at last, entertwine with a few of the kin I have left around me.

Now I am tall and man has cut my lower branches, so children cannot climb me; but my trunk is large and my roots are thick so sometimes people lean their backs against me or lie craddled in my roots.  I have heard a thousand conversations, between friends and lovers, between man and God.  I have seen millions of smiles; smiles addressed to friends, people smiling to themselves, or smiles aimed at the One above.  I have been watered by tears and have wept for the disapointments of the ones who lie beneath me, I have comforted with the soft whispers of my branches; I have been warmed by joy and shivered with delight at some of the memories that were made in the shelter of my branches.

Through the years there have been little beings who have laid claim to me and called me their tree, though, they come and go so quickly that, if anything, I suppose I really belong to the earth who holds me or the squirrels who live their entire lives in my branches.  I do not mind being claimed by the little ones, it makes me special to them and also makes me feel special.  I see some of them from time to time, some of the ones who have claimed me in the past, when they come back to visit this place.  They change so much, so fast, I think they change so quickly because they are so often moving, so often in a hurry and do not put roots down anywhere.

I saw a boy almost six years ago, for awhile he would sit under different trees but it wasn’t long before he began to most often come to me and he soon started to called me his tree.  He has taken naps lying between my roots, has eaten alone and brought friends to eat with him, he has smiled and come close to weeping while he sat in my shelter.   He has listened to my voice and has tried to tell some of my story, though, since he has not put down roots, has not lifted his arms to the sky in years of praise to our Maker, has not had pieces of himself cut away by ragged teeth, he cannot tell my story too well.  He told it too quickly…so like those little beings.

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