The Book Tree
By Jane Tawel
August 9, 2020
There is an ancient Book. It began as one life, The Tree of Life, the Tree of Jesse, and it has sent seeds throughout the world, which have taken deep roots, growing into a mighty, world-reaching forest of life-giving beliefs.
Some people have taken the Book Tree’s branches and turned them into tentacles to ensnare. Some have taken the Book Tree’s roots and poisoned them in their desire to destroy the Life that the Book Tree offers. Some have worshipped the Book, and forgotten that a Book is just a book; and that it is always about something that is more real than any words on a page can hope to convey. And some have used the Book Tree for personal gain and profit, cutting away the branches so the fruit can not be easily gleaned by those in need, but only gorged on by those hogging the sectioned-off branches.
There are many people who have taught me about The Book, some because they understood its meaning and some because they refused to. A person can learn from those who get it right and from those who get it wrong, and that is the wonderful thing about this Book; it is full of stories of people who got the messages in it right and those who got it wrong. I have learned that the Book has stories about people who from the beginning of Time have been just like me – full of pride, full of brokenness, full of a desire to give in to the temptations of self-centeredness, full of fear, and full of need. I have also learned from the stories that people have always been just like the best of humans that I know – full of courage in the face of danger, full of love in the face of hate, full of determination in the face of injustice, full of faith in the deepest darkness, full of hope in what we can not see yet, and full of something that can always be a little, better, a little higher than the beasts but always still a little lacking, a little yearning, a little lower than the angels.
I have learned in the Book that people have mostly gotten it wrong, but that as long as there is breath, there is the possibility of finally getting some things right. In the Book the only thing that counts is that you admit when you get it wrong and that you keep trying to get it right and that in the end, if you get it right, you’ll be okay. The Book calls this “forgiveness”.
I have learned that if you are my friend, that does not mean I should make your enemy my enemy. The Book teaches that there is only one “team” that matters and that I should try to play for it; and that team is not in competition with any other team, but it is the one sharing with everyone else. I have learned instead of keeping my heart hardened toward an enemy, that if I try to understand and have compassion for everyone, then I will have no enemies, but only brothers and sisters. The Book calls this “love”.
The Book has taught me that I, like all before and after me, have many choices of what to believe, but that if I want to believe what The Book teaches, then there is One Being that I should worship whose name no one knows but Who nonetheless, “IS”. “I AM” is the sole consolation of The Book; there is no other prize, no other meaning than relationship with Holy Otherness. The Book is clear, and yet not comforting about this God. The stories teach that there is a Creator of this world and of me (and of you); that there is a Parent who is Love; that there is a Conscience Reality that judges between Good and Evil; and that there is a Giver who loves to give what is truly Right and Good for the Created Planet and for the Creatures we are. That’s it. That’s all we get to trust in about what we long to know. Trusting in this and acting on it, believing against all odds, and despite our lack of knowledge and assurance, is what The Book calls “faith”.
The Book has taught me that there were many humans that lived Good Lives, lives lived all in CAPS with exclamation points behind them; GOOD PEOPLE!!!! and that every single one of them sacrificed and suffered a lot to do the right things. The Book has taught me that it is these suffering servants who really get what this life on earth has to offer that is best of all; and that the people who think this life is about getting more, earning more, hoarding more, of anything, including wealth or power, never really live as we were created to live. We should feel sorry for these people, not envy them, at least that is what The Book teaches.
The Book has taught me there were many people who were saviors of their people, and that there was one person who lived a perfectly Good Life and he is The Savior of all. He was also the most suffering servant of all, so it is astounding that so many people since he lived on earth claim they want to live like he did. Of course, it is hard to come up with actual examples of any of us who have lived like The Good Man lived, but the point is, so many people keep trying to, and that has made all the difference ever since.
The Book has taught me to follow the example of all of the Good People in the World, even if they never have read the Book or know anything about the God in it. The very best person to follow in life is the One Perfect Human, but this person is a very, very, very hard person to follow. He is a hard act to follow and at the same time, he is also exactly like me. And so, the Book teaches that I have great responsibilities, great need of forgiveness, and great hope of rebirth into the kind of Life that this particular Savior who is part of the Story of The Book, taught us about. This Man is what The Book calls “Son of God”.
The Book teaches me that every human comes into the world with a sense of right and wrong called a conscience, but that our conscience is a part of us like our hands or our lungs or our livers, and we can either care for and nurture our conscience or we can abuse and starve it, so that it becomes weak and sickly. The Book teaches that there are universal laws that will lead to being the best sort of human our species can offer and that everyone knows these laws but also that everyone always wants to make new laws that aren’t good for everyone or to apply the laws to others to follow but not follow themselves. The Book teaches that unless we follow the laws of caring for the planet and for all who live in it, then we are lost. This is why the Book teaches that the one thing most hated by the God of The Book and by our own best natures, is our ability to turn Truth into Lies. The Book teaches that from The Beginning, when First Man and First Woman lied to The God and lied to each other, that that is when they began to die. Lies are the roots of Death. The Book teaches us that we can kill our conscience, that we can kill that very thing that makes us “like gods”. This thing that is in all of us that we are to care for above everything else is what The Book calls “the soul”.
The Book teaches that though we may not see it clearly, there is beyond the mist and fog and in the darkest of darknesses, a Light of Truth that has no end. This Truth can only exist as a Co-Creator with Love. And Love as a powerful force of Goodness and Truthfulness and Joy is that which will remain long after The Book is no longer needed, on earth as it is EveryWhere THE IAM of LOVE lives.
I learn from The Book about Life and what the stories in The Book do in my own life and my own relationships and my own Relationship, is a matter of how I live each day in The Garden. Like seeds planted, each moment, it matters on an unfathomable scale, how I choose to nurture those seeds, how I protect them from weeds and drought, how I nourish them, how I grow them, and how I trust in The Sun to freely give them Life. The Book teaches that to whom much is given, much is required of her to give back, to give others, to give forth, to give freely. Because The Book teaches me that there is nothing to fear if I keep my hand to the plow and the other hand outstretched to my neighbor and that I can live boldly and joyfully, like the other people whose stories are told in The Book. I can be at peace in this world with a “peace that passes understanding”. The Book calls this “wholeness” or “shalom”.
I am so grateful to have found the Book, so many years ago now. It is a compass that always points to True North, it is a map and a guide on The Way; it is a consolation in times of trial, a rod and staff when I err and need redirected; it is a wealth of good tales with stirring events and teaching moments, with characters that I can relate to, admire, and either cheer or boo; it is a source of eternal proverbs and excellent poetry; and it is an eternal clarion call to live justly and righteously in a world of naysayers. And greatest of all, The Book is a hint – a small little hint—that there is Someone who wants to know me and be known by me and that That Otherness called simply “I Am” is as real as the Perfect Love that I have always imagined truly exists.
The Book is a Tree, and we are the branches. Let me reach forth my own small branch so that even the small birds of the field may find shelter there. Let me be secure in the Truth that The Tree produces enough fruit for all and let me share the fruits of my own small labors and my life so that all may live in the shade of Love. Let the leaves of The Book be like leaves of a mighty forest bringing Life to the whole world. May it be so for you and for me in this very moment ~~ Jane
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)
“The visions of my head as I lay in bed were these: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and its height was great. The tree grew and became strong, and its top reached to heaven, and it was visible to the end of the whole earth. Its leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant, and in it was food for all. The beasts of the field found shade under it, and the birds of the heavens lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it.” (The Book of Daniel 4:10-12)
(c) Jane Tawel 2020