The Three: Willow, Branch, Leaf
Family of Man – Harvest
As promised, here is the story of Willow, Branch, and Leaf.
It is said that the creator looked through the clouds one day and saw a need for shade. The heat from the sun provided much for the world but the people were beginning to spread their own type of heat – anger. Grieved at this, a tear fell from the creator’s eye and from it, a tree grew. The tree could bend and move as no other and it was called “willow” from the word meaning to roll and turn.
Beneath the willow tree three plants grew. One grew outside the tree’s shade while another used the tree trunk to grow tall. Still another stood straight and offered shade to plants around it, much like the willow tree did. The plants provided food for the people who became more loving in the shade of the tree. They reached out to each other more and life was good.
Nearby there were three sisters living together. Different in appearance, the sisters loved each other and stayed together. They believed their being together made them strong. A visitor soon entered their life and spoke of other places and other customs. Several nights later one of the sisters had disappeared and within the week another was gone. The remaining sister blamed the visitor and cast him out. She never spoke to strangers again and grieved deeply for her sisters.
Time passed and then the same visitor appeared. This time he was accompanied by the second sister. She told the elder sister that she had not meant to cause her grief but had wanted to grow and so had gone to see the different places the visitor had described. She had come home now and had many different ways to improve their land. The sisters hugged and were overjoyed.
One day after much time had passed the third sister appeared with her own family. She was welcomed by her sisters and asked why she had stayed away so long. “I needed to grow”, she replied. “I also wanted to see the world, to make my own way.” She also offered advice on different ways to do things but unlike her other sister, she eventually went back to her new home. The sisters did stay in touch, secure in their love for each other which time had not dimmed.
A willow tree is very flexible and yet it is also quite strong. Once believed to have possessed magical powers, its leaves are often used to help combat fevers. Our folk tale of a willow tree being used to help alleviate heat has some scientific bearing. The willow is one of the strongest trees, bending to the wind but never fully snapping or being brought to death by other forces of nature.
The family of man is like the willow tree with all its different varieties. We cannot ignore our differences but neither should we forget our similarities. When we plant strong roots in our being of goodness and kindness, we will grow and flourish wherever we are. Nothing can truly take away our love of family when we allow it to grow. We too need to branch out and stretch ourselves both mentally and physically. Through our actions of kindness and goodness, we drop leaves that can grow within other environs and improve the world. Willow branches are said to be used by those believing in magic. We can create the magic of goodness when we use our skills and actions for good.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu knows the value of our stretching and growing to spread seeds of goodness. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” The family of man will grow when we remember to do good, not evil.