If you have read any of my previous “StarGate” stories, you’ll know that they could be called little “parables” that create themselves from the Star+Gate cards in a certain manner. When I write a Stargate story I have no idea what that story is going to be about until I pick the cards from the deck which are initially facedown, and then the story emerges full-blown. (If you’re curious about how I came to work with the cards in the first place to create what have turned out to be little inspirational stories or parables, see the first story in this series)
In today’s story, The Little Tree, you will notice a certain characteristic of the Star+Gate cards – the story does not always correspond exactly with the cards that spark it off, but sometimes is merely suggested by them.
You will see this illustrated in the cards above that inspired today’s story. The card labeled “Leaf” seemed more like a little tree to me, rather than just a leaf, and that is what the story turned out to be about. You will also see that the card labeled “Star of Patience” is not centrally involved in the story. The little tree is indeed patient with the Lady of the Court in the story, but patience is not a major theme. The actual story seems to center around the little tree and the meaning of the hand mirror. I’m mentioning this to show you the versatility of the cards and how they can spark very different things in different people, and in the same person on a different day.
So here is today’s fanciful story…
The Little Tree by Patricia Carrington
A tree was growing in a garden. It was a small graceful baby sapling that shook its bows delightedly at other trees as it waved “hello” to them and danced in the sunlight. This tree was incredibly happy; it had no self-consciousness at all.
This little tree did not know what its own self looked like because it had never seen itself. But it knew it was beautiful because it felt the sweet sap running through its veins, and the happiness in its stems, and it knew how to dance and somehow was sure that the world would dance with it.
But things were not so simple or innocent as they seemed at first glance in the little tree’s world.
In the same garden, there was a “Lady of the Court” who came there daily to study and she was very solemn. The lady rarely looked up from her books except on those occasions when she fingered the beads of her rosary. She was pious, certain that hers was the right way, and she was essentially disinterested in life as it is lived.
On this particular day, the Lady of the Court, who was dressed stiffly in heavy silk, caught sight of the little tree, and as she did so she felt a stab of bitterness within her as she noticed its beauty and grace. The little tree was free and resonated with life and vitality. The Lady of the Court was a prisoner to her piety, her ambition, and her bookish pretensions.
On this day, the Lady of the Court was totally occupied with studying her own face in a hand mirror which she always carried with her. It was her habit to study her face long and hard and seriously each day so that she could achieve self-improvement and realize her lofty ambition. She kept the hand mirror handy at all times while she sat reading her holy books in the garden.
On this work day, for all days were work days to her, the lady called to the little tree and beckoned to it, “Come here!” she called over to the happy little one. “I am here to instruct you. I would like to show you some important things.”
The little tree was astonished at this invitation. It was quite unexpected and didn’t make much sense to her. The lady had never even spoken to her before. What is more, the little tree rather resented being interrupted. She was humming a little tune in her own special rhythm and since there was no other rhythm like it in the entire universe, this was an all absorbing experience for the little tree who waived its leaves in accompaniment.
“Come here… Do come,” called out the lady of the court, beckoning to her stealthily again. “I have something nice to show you.”
Now the little tree heard the invitation for the first time and became wary. But the lady’s voice was quite compelling and she spoke with authority so the little tree finally sidled over to where the lady sat and seated herself at her feet. The tree’s small leaves were tossing in the wind when she did this and she was actually quite far away in her mind, humming a little song to herself and letting its rhythm envelope her.
The lady smiled at her cunningly and said, “I told you that I have something to show you. Well… Look in here and you will see it.” And she held up her hand mirror so that the little tree could not help but look straight into the mirror, in which, of course, she saw a little tree dancing in the wind.
The tree smiled delightedly when she saw this. “Oh how nice!” She cried. “There is a little tree! Look how she bends and how she dances!”
“True enough” said the Lady of the Court, “but remember, she is nothing but a tree. She is not a person. She has no body, just a stem. She has no eyes, just leaves. She has no head, just…” But she noticed that the little tree was now looking closely into the looking glass. She was fascinated.
“I see her!” she cried “I see her!” And as she was still entranced with the day and the rhythms, she half closed her eyes as she spoke
“Look again” the lady said, a bit more firmly this time. “Look in here once more, my dear. You don’t yet know who it is that you see in there do you?… Aren’t you curious?
The little tree’s eyes were half closed in a dreamy fashion and she tossed her head as she answered, smiling. “I do know. She is me. She is all ME.” But she really had no idea of what she was saying. Her words were spoken from an innocence where she perceived all things – each blade of grass, the sun and the heavens, the crickets in the breeze and even the Lady of the Court as just – herself.
But the lady would not give up. “Look how small the little tree is” said the lady holding the looking glass even closer to her now.
“And see how alone she is – all alone by herself in the world. She must be very lonely, don’t you think?”
Since the little tree had never heard the word “lonely,” she didn’t know what the lady was talking about and so she just laughed with a light bell-like laughter that rippled across the garden in the sunlight.
“Look at the empty space around that tree” said the lady. “She has no friends. There is no one for her to play with – no friends at all. You don’t see any there do you?”
The little tree didn’t know what friends were because she had never had one and since the entire universe and every speck of it was always her friend this comment went right over her head. All she knew was that she liked the little tree that she saw in the mirror and she nodded to it and to her delight she saw the little tree nod back.
The lady saw that her strategy was not working so she became more direct. “Do you know who that is in the mirror?” she asked pointedly. But the little tree did not answer, just kept rocking back and forth, smiling.
“That is you!” said the lady. “That is a little branch that calls itself a tree. That is you! Now, doesn’t that make you feel humble to realize that all the time you thought this was a friend, and it’s only you?”
The little tree was bewildered. She was not used to being talked to and could not grasp the concept of the word “you. What was a “you” she wondered. So, when the lady then said “You will want to study yourself. You will want to understand yourself” the little tree had a hard time with this because she didn’t know what a “yourself” was either.
Now the Lady of the Court switched tactics once more. “I will love you if you try to understand what I am saying” she told the tree. “The world will admire if you scrutinize yourself.”
This almost flipped the little tree out, for the very idea of someone “loving” someone was meaningless to her. She wasn’t a bit interested in the exchange of the commodity the lady called “love,” for she just enjoyed the warmth of the sun on her leaves and danced with the love that was in the air all around her. It never occurred to her that love was a thing that people “gave” to each other. How do you give what is always there and all around you, she wondered.
Then the lady asked her a different question. “What do you think of yourself?” she asked, “What is your appraisal of what you see as you look in this glass, gazing at yourself?”
The little tree had never been asked a question before today because in her world, her universe, there were no questions. Questions seek what is not there and for her things had always been there. They were there all the time. The little tree was now beginning to think – if thinking is the right word for it for it was more of an idea pattern then an organized thought – that this lovely lady was just a little bit wacky.
And so, the little tree, slowly and gracefully and tactfully, began to back away, half shielding herself from the gaze of the lady by waving her leaves across her eyes in a fluttering motion.
The lady immediately saw that the tree was moving away and she cried out to her “No! No! Don’t go!” and there was a note of desperation in her voice. Then when she saw that the tree was moving back into the garden a bit more quickly, she shouted to her again, “Come back! Come back!”
But the lady saw that the little tree was actually slipping away from her quite completely and returning to the garden where grasshoppers sang their songs and where butterflies whisked and where the little tree could be alone and together with every corner of the universe.
“Come back! Come back!” rang out the ever more distant voice of the lady as the tree glanced back at her one last time. Then the lady faded from her view, receding into the folds of time until she was but a tiny speck on the horizon.
Faintly now, and barely audible so far away was the lady and ever getting further, the tree heard a tiny distant voice calling out “Come back! Come back!”
But the little tree could scarcely hear her now, so loud was her own humming and so engrossing was her dance and so happily and completely did she extend her waving branches to the universe in the sunlit endless garden of the day.
Were we humans ever that innocent, I wonder? Maybe we were when we were first born, for a few days or weeks or maybe a bit longer, but perhaps we never had that all enveloping joy in this lifetime. I know, though, that once upon a time, we were like the little tree and I am eager to hear what message you get from this story? All of my StarGate stories are in a sense little parables that come to me naturally and without contemplation, I never set out to say anything particular but simply respond to the images in the cards and the story writes itself. If you want to respond to the little tree’s story please leave your comments below and you and I can talk about it.