In this, the last of our summer posts on trees, let me offer you this parable from Cynthia Bourgeault’s book The Wisdom Way of Knowing.
Once upon a time, in a not-so-faraway land, there was a kingdom of acorns – a myriad of acorns nestled at the foot of a grand old oak tree.
Since the citizens of this kingdom were modern, and fully Westernised acorns, they went about their business with purposeful energy; and since they were midlife, baby boomer acorns, they engaged in a lot of self-help courses. There were seminars called “Getting All You Can out of Your Shell.” There were woundedness and recovery groups for acorns who had been bruised in their original fall from the tree. There were retreats and spas for oiling and polishing those shells and various acornopathic therapies to enhance longevity and well-being.
One day in the midst of this kingdom there suddenly appeared a knotty little stranger, who apparently dropped “out of the blue” by a passing bird. He was odd: capless and dirty, making an immediate negative impression on his fellow acorns. And crouched beneath the oak tree, he stammered out a strange and wild tale. Pointing upward at the tree, he spoke to all that would listen to him, and said, “We…are…that!”
Delusional thinking, obviously, the other acorns concluded.
But, one or two of them continued to engage him in conversation: “So tell us, how would we become that tree?”
“Well,” said he, pointing downward, “it has something to do with going into the ground…and cracking open the shell.”
“Insane,” they responded. “Totally morbid! Why, then we wouldn’t be acorns anymore!”
It seems to echo well the words of Jesus in John 12:
Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.
Let every seed we see this summer remind us of two essential truths: there is a powerful force of life within each of us – this generative energy of the Spirit that nourishes us and gives life to the world. The second truth is that there must be dying in our living – a letting go of who we think we are – a surrendering of our smaller self to this greater life within. Until the acorn falls into the ground, its life cannot truly begin. May we allow life to crack us open so we can begin to experience the fullness of life God has always intended for us.