It was a scorching hot day as I drove to my destination; no breeze, cloud, or bird-song relieved its lassitude. Suddenly, as I turned a corner, there was a row of trees lining both sides of the road. Their leaves and branches formed a canopy above that offered a cool, dark haven for a weary traveler on this sunbleached day. I slowed down and marveled at these trees, old and gnarled, their enormous trunks had roots like toes clinging to the earth, while their branches reached up into the sky.
Through the decades they had grown, battered by storms, surviving fires and droughts, transmuting earth into a living green haven for the myriad life forms that are nurtured by them. Each tree had absorbed its life-experience into itself, pushed its roots deep into the earth for sustenance, and lifted its branches and leaves high into the air to receive the blessing of the sun. Yet it was the trunks, strong and sturdy, that I stood in awe of. Each passing year had added to their girth, forming a sturdy foundation for the fragile structure above. Irrespective of climatic vicissitude, they had endured, growing slowly, inexorably; their rings, the hidden living record of each passing day, bearing witness to their inner growth.
With deepened understanding and wonder I remembered the ancient symbolic use of trees. I knew that we are Trees of Life. Throughout the countless ages we too have endured. Our roots, firmly grounded in divinity, nourish us spiritually and the experiences of lifetimes have built rings of wisdom into the fabric of our souls, adding strength and stability to cope with the vicissitudes of life. Like the trees that fulfill their duty by offering the essence of their being in the form of a sheltering green oasis, our lives can, by selflessness and kindness, nurture and protect the lives that surround and touch us, thereby fulfilling our divine duty.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1995; copyright © 1995 Theosophical University Press)