An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of September 27, 2009
issued from the Siskiyou Mountains west of
GRANTS PASS, OREGON, USA

THE TREE OF LIFE

When I finished nibbling the elderberries I was about to toss the remaining inflorescence stem aside when I noticed how pretty it was. I held it against the sky and took the picture shown below:

 Elderberry inflorescence stems

The elderberry's inflorescence stem pleases me less with its gracious symmetry and harmonious proportions than by the paradigm it imparts to my mind. For, in it I see a model of the Tree of Life -- the branching and rebranching and rebranching and rebranching scheme by which Nature's gorgeous diversity of species has arisen from a single sort of living thing.

The same pattern of endless rebranching arising from a single stem root corresponds to the history of the Universe itself where everything arose from the single instance of the Big Bang. The history of all computers arising from a single first one, the history of all great thoughts and movements arising from single first inspirations, the history of all religions arising from the single mother of spirituality... The Tree of Life pattern is the most natural and powerful of all paradigms.

It's good to meditate on the Tree of Life. For, much in our lives is diminished by thinking assuming that reality is static, and that its parts are either one way or another. That kind of thinking requires us to choose good or bad, right or left, in or out, with or against... In fact, everything in the Universe that is consequential, worthy and lovely reveals its majesty most when understood as part of an ongoing evolutionary process whose profoundly interrelated parts possess values and characters that vary, and are relative, depending on perspective.

The world, life, the future, every dimension of reality, all are patterned on the Tree of Life, the spent elderberry inflorescence. Let religions and raging schools of thought insist on their monolithic, unchanging dogmas, their demands for yes-or-no or come-or-go, but, let ME meditate on the elderberry's Tree of Life, the Tree of Life's elderberries, the simple little elderberry tree freely at hand.