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ECS Wellbeing: Bishop Martin’s Awareness Practice (An Easter Story)

An Easter Story: ‘The Dead Tree

This story of the dead tree is for your imagination. I enjoy telling stories and the ones I write I like to think of them being read out loud. Here’s one for you! You can either read it to your family at home, or ask someone else at home to read it to you. Choose a time when you can sit down and be in a story-telling and story-listening mood. The story I’ve written for you is for Easter. Perhaps, you might leave it until Easter Sunday or the days following in Easter Week before you get ‘inside’ the story. You’ll notice that there’s something of what Easter is about in it: that which is dead, coming to new life. Jesus Resurrection from being dead is about bringing new life to those around him. The story of the dead tree is about new life for others. Here goes!

Just outside a small village, somewhere beneath the huge snow-covered mountains, were some huge trees. They were grand, straight and very old. One of the trees had died because it had been chopped down as the villagers thought it the ugliest of all the trees. It lay on the ground for weeks, slowly losing all its leaves and branches. Grey and dry, it was good for nothing but to be chopped up. One family among the villagers, however, loved the tree, even though it was dead. Before it was chopped up, they gathered together four horses and dragged the tree down to the side of the nearby river. Tied to the bank, was a long flat boat.

Before the tree was loaded onto the boat, one of the children brought some scraps of paper and pencils. Curious as to what was happening, all the villagers came down to the river, noticing that the scraps were being attached to the tree with little pins. On the scraps were prayers: prayers for peace, prayers for those who were ill, prayers for guidance and advice; prayers of thanks for gifts received, and, of course, prayers for those who had died. Hundreds of scraps of paper covered the tree that it looked as if they were leaves!

The horses were harnessed to the boat and they pulled it up the river: two horses on one side and two on the other. After many days slowly pulling the boat up the river, they came to another wood by the bank of the river, where the dead tree was taken off the boat. The youngest child of the tree-loving family, tried hard to persuade everyone that the tree should be pulled upright and planted in the ground. This the family did, reluctantly, as they could not see that that would be of any use. They left the wood and travelled back to their village.

Months later, despite the long distance, the family returned up the river to see the tree. There it was covered in branches, twigs and leaves, which had sprung, or so it seemed, out from the scraps of paper. Carefully, the family with many other helpers dug around the tree, carefully avoiding damaging the roots, and dragged it even more carefully onto the boat. On the way back down the river, thousands of people gathered on each side to watch the tree go slowly down the river. Everyone was silent. The scraps of paper with all those prayers, could they have possibly have brought new life to the tree?

Carefully and gently, the tree was replanted at the edge of the village. Once a week, from that time onwards, early in the morning people gathered by the tree, with scraps of paper with their prayers on them. The wind came and blow them off the tree, to float away to who knows where. They always wondered where the scrap-prayers landed. Perhaps they have brought new life, a Resurrection, to another village.

God bless you and yours in the Resurrection, the new life, which is happening in front of you! Happy Easter.

Bishop Martin

School Chaplain

31 March 2021
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