SITTING HERE ON MY TERRACE in the ardent sunshine, I was going to write about the alchemical effect of music on the soul as strains of a Handel Concerto Grosso drifted through the living-room entrance. But as I began to type, I noticed a heart-stopping, long-awaited sight just a metre from where I was sitting: My little citrus Lime Tree had suddenly acquired a leaf-shoot bump, as I realised on closer inspection; followed later by more similar bumps all over it, along with a number of flower-buds bursting out with glee (see attached photos of actual shoots and buds in their current state only a week later). Immediately, a parable came into my mind: “The Parable of the Lime Tree (True Story)”. So here it is (followed by an explanatory sonnet):
“A man bought a Lime Tree sapling in a garden centre, the fulfilment of a long-held wish. The omniscient man in charge of the nursery assured him that it would shoot and flower eventually, though he added “it may not seem that way”. Standing at 5 feet high (153 cm), he installed it with joy on his terrace and took much pleasure in gazing at it while he was writing there. He was so moved by its shape and its vulnerable thereness that a tear would often well up in his eye. It was dependent on him for care and nurture; and nurture and care for it he did. But as the months went by, he wondered why there was no new growth on it. After all, he had diligently fed and watered it, having read up on what was necessary to care for such a tree. Surely, there should have been shoots appearing by now? Well, more months went by and still nothing appeared. In fact, one day he noticed with heartbreak that a leaf had fallen from the tree and lay on the earth in the large pot in which it stood. Some of the other leaves seemed to be turning yellow at the edges. Was the tree about to die? Had all his concern been in vain? The suggestion of failure crept into his mind and he apologised to the tree under his breath. This dearth of growth continued. Another leaf fell, and the man was perched on the edge of despair. However, just when he thought all was lost and had given up all hope, he noticed with amazement a tiny green bump on one of the skinny branches. Was it really an incipient shoot or was it just an anomaly of the bark? The next day, he saw two more green bumps. Within another two days there were little green bumps everywhere. The man cried with joy and said out loud to the tree (but most of all to the nursery owner): ‘I’m so sorry I ever doubted you. Please forgive me for my lack of patience and trust’… and then he bowed his face deeply to the ground”.
So now, dear friends, I leave with you this tale,
to understand the meaning it conveys.
I think I’ve left a decent paper-trail
so you can know what lessons it portrays.
A tree serves as a masterclass to learn
about the ways that growth and change occur.
For roots in dark and leaves in light do yearn;
while buds and shoots show how we can mature.
But yet, when all my Lime Tree’s boughs were bare,
I doubted they’d again return to life.
I should have called the Nursery Owner there,
and saved myself those months of grief and strife.
When barrenness appears to rule and reign,
a prayer or more can keep poor doubters sane.
© Alan Morrison, 2018