Simple Living

I stood at the edge of the cliff overlooking the greyish blue waters of the Caribbean Sea on Trinidad’s north coast.  The waves marched restlessly and chaotically towards the jagged coastline. The slopes of the cliff were littered with coconut trees heavily loaded with ripe and half ripe coconuts. 

I stood under its shady canopy in a brilliantly sunny day, the wind violently slapping my face, my lungs sucking in the salty clean air, while rejecting the polluted city air. I started counting coconut trees, but abandoned this seemingly futile exercise. Too many to count. But, my eyes caught sight of a coconut tree stump located just three feet away from the spot that imprisoned me.

This was a tree – a tree with a story, a beginning and an end, a birth and a death. What was this tree’s story? In what year was it born? When did it meet its fate?  How did it meet its fate? How old was it?  How many coconuts did it produce in its lifetime? How tall did it grow? How many human feet stabbed its trunks to retrieve its hard-to-reach fruits?  

If you had a question for this tree, what would it be? 

This tree had no one to care for it except God’s creative hands. It wasn’t a city tree to be regularly watered or fed, pruned or spoken with. It didn’t have to contend with smog, human and artificial noise, or curse words. It only had to contend with the noise of the ocean, the frivolous wind, the intermittent sounds of vehicles and humans, the splattering of raindrops and the occasional thunder and lightning storms. 

But now it’s gone. No longer living. The only evidence is this lonely stump. We too are like the tree – today we are here, tomorrow we are only history with someone standing at our grave or by our ashes asking, Who was this?  What was his or her history?  Today, we are here, tomorrow we are gone. These are not our choices. Our only choice? Live simply and humbly.  

“We must pray for the humility it takes to find our wholeness in our littleness…”

Joan Chittister, Breath of the Soul

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