Music & the Spoken Word: The tree of life

Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music & the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir is practicing social distancing. This will be given Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021.

For all of their differences, there are some things that many of the world’s religions share in common. One of these is the symbolic tree of life, representing a connection between heaven and earth and our longing for the eternal. Somewhere deep inside, we all want to know that life continues, that our existence has meaning beyond the here and now, and that its purposes do not begin with birth or end with death.

Not long after a young family moved into their first home, they planted a tree in their backyard. It was exactly the same height as their 2-year-old daughter, so they called it her tree. For a time, the tree and the little girl seemed to grow at about the same rate. But before long, as the girl helped water and care for the tree, it quickly outgrew her.

When her family moved into a new home, a young girl helped plant a new tree in the yard. Now she has a home of her own, but the tree remains. As she gazes at the branches stretching heavenward, she remembers that she and her tree were once the same size, and she thinks back on all the living and growing they both have seen — and will yet see in years to come.
When her family moved into a new home, a young girl helped plant a new tree in the yard. Now she has a home of her own, but the tree remains. As she gazes at the branches stretching heavenward, she remembers that she and her tree were once the same size, and she thinks back on all the living and growing they both have seen — and will yet see in years to come. Credit: pingpao – stock.adobe.com

She and her friends spent many summer afternoons playing beneath and around the tree, climbing its branches and sometimes leaving her toys near its trunk. As she got older, she often sat to read in its shade. And sometimes, when she wanted to be alone, she went to the quiet of her tree to think.

Eventually, the girl became a woman and went away to college. Now she has a home of her own, but the tree remains — and she still comes back to visit it from time to time. As she gazes at the branches stretching heavenward and leans against the thick, sturdy trunk that grasps the earth so firmly, she remembers that she and her tree were once the same size, and she thinks back on all the living and growing they both have seen — and will yet see in years to come.

In some ways, this tree has become her tree of life. It doesn’t bear fruit promising immortality, but it does help her feel connected to heaven. And it links her past with her future. It can be difficult to see the growth in ourselves, but when we look at a mighty tree that we once knew as a sapling, we are reminded of the potential inside each of us. No matter how small we may feel now, we were created to grow, to spread our branches and to bear life-giving fruit.

Tuning in …

The “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYtUv, BYUradio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.com/viewers-listeners/airing-schedules.

See the Church News’ archive of ‘Spoken Word’ messages