There was nearby, along a stream, the hacked trunk of a young tree. The rest of it lay where it was cast, in the ditch below. Knowing the neighborhood and those who frequented the path on which this tree once thrived, I knew the boys who did it.
I felt sorrow for the tree and pity for the boys. For, their act had no purpose which might give it authority. It was merely the act of bored and petulant youth exhausting a feeling of powerlessness and aimlessness. I know this because I did the same kinds of things as a child.
As years have gone by like that stream of mountain water, I’ve come to value the companionship of trees. They provide so much: fresh air, inspiration, beauty, majesty, wood for building and for so many essential human needs; they even draw up the water from the earth. Trees provide shelter and an abode not only for human beings, but for countless other creatures. So, it occurred to me as I stood within the forest gazing at its tattered remains, that even in its death the tree had served, for it gave the young men a sense of victory, however sordid and fleeting.
As for the boys, all they really accomplished for themselves was a felling of their own spirit. In living what can one do but love the living? Anything else is death. Even in battle, truly great warriors, who must follow the grim logic of war, honor and celebrate their fallen foes. Those who spit upon the corpses of the defeated are only heaping contempt upon themselves, for no one can escape the body’s death and only a very few truly know whence the gift of life is given.
Bless the trees who signify the gods in order in their orbs beneath heaven, and the ultimate Power that loves and cherishes all. Earthly angels, in no hyperbole, they thrive that animate beings may live and carry out their personal and public affairs in lazy ignorance or in active awareness. Trees are worthy of honor and to be cherished in return. Treating them in this way empowers one to draw nearer to the root of one’s own life and that of all life.