Don’t judge a book
by its cover
nor a tree
by its lack of cover.
A cursory glance,
on my morning walk,
showed me a desiccated skeleton;
a pitiful, emaciated, bark-less tree,
apparently pointing an accusatory finger at God.
Stripped of skin and flesh,
of muscles, tendons and vital organs,
it stood gaunt and shriveled
to the side of the path.
I felt a deep pity for it;
this once elegant majestic oak tree,
now looking like a terminally-ill cancer patient,
ravaged by illness and chemotherapy;
with hollow cheeks and vacant eyes.
So, I hugged it.
And then it spoke to me.
“Do you really think I’m dead?
Open your eyes, your mind,
your imagination and your soul.
I’m not dead. I’m serving.
Thousands of grubs and insects
have homes deep in my body
Entire generations of them
have been born and lived out their lives here.”
“One of my limbs fell off some years back.
There it lies on the ground
colonized by a mycelium,
waiting for a psychonaut to ingest some
and experience a radically-altered
state of consciousness;
exploring new dimensions,
filled with elementals and mystical visions.”
”I am not a corpse.
I am a life giver.
I am a passage through the veil.
And what about you, oh human being?
Whom are you helping to live?
Whom have you escorted through the veil?”
Then I understood
that the finger pointing at the sky,
was not an accusation;
it was a signpost
giving me directions.
Tír na nÓg
Fr. Seán ÓLaoire, PhD