Let there be a tree?

‘Let there be a tree,’ said God, once upon a time, ‘which grows from the birds down.’

And the church came into being. And its branches spread and its trunk grew downwards, until it rooted itself in the dusty ground. And theologians and clergy of many nations nested among its roots.

After a time, a dispute rose among them. ‘This tree does not flourish as it should,’ they said to one another. ‘We should pull up our roots, and move to richer soil, for one can see the quality of the earth here is abysmally poor. Other trees are improved by such transplanting. Let us have courage and follow their example.’ (For they saw from other trees that it was so.)

‘No! No!’ said others. ‘We have seen trees wither and die when you tamper with their roots. There are bad years and good ones, and we must take the rough with the smooth. It would be colossal folly to pull up our roots, which give us all our sustenance. Let us wait, and things will improve.’ (For they saw from other trees that it was so.)

Meanwhile, the noise of the debate reached some of the birds in the topmost branches, and they were puzzled. ‘Do they not know,’ said one small sparrow, ‘that we give this tree its life? Shall we not fly down, and stop them grubbing around in their toots?’ ‘No,’ replied a wise old pigeon. ‘We can only sing when we are touched by the sunlight. But we must sing louder, so that they remember the possibilities of birdsong. And he began to coo with all his might.’

Elizabeth Templeton