The Tree Poem (In honor of Resurrection Sunday)

Sharifa Stevens's picture
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I wrote this poem last year as a commission for our church's logo, which is a tree. In honor of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who created trees, hung on a tree, makes me like a tree planted by rivers of water, and who will provide us shade under the tree of life, I am reposting. Praise God for Resurrection Sunday!

Organic
This gospel seed that
Pierced the ground
Was buried in the soil
Died
Somehow stronger through
Grace waters and destiny
Broke through dirt with roots and stalks
Branches and trunk
Abundant fruit
Delicious and nutritious
(when I’m in the mood to eat healthy, anyway)

This family tree
Has roots in eternity
I mean, this tree was old
In Eden
Its fruit weighed heavy
The cost of good and evil
But cursed after Eve believed a lie
Its fruit did not satisfy the grumbling
In her soul set off by serpentine marketing

One bite and everything was jacked up
Instead of fruits of good there was just evil
The tree brought forth death
Roots in the waters of grace mingled with blood sacrifice
A gnarly trunk with high-reaching branches
Life’s fruit out of reach

Yet good for shade
This tree made a canopy for Abraham and Sarah
While they were homeless
Flamed a fiery beacon to Moses
An assurance of God’s miraculous presence
In slavery times
The judging place of Deborah
God’s covering when all hell was breaking loose
An object lesson to Jonah
About the sanctity of life

Then…silence.

The tree was cursed as the people of Israel
Dispersed
Prophets hushed by God or by the sword
No hearing of God’s Word until

The Isaiah 11 tree
Came to be
Root and branch of Jesse
One known not to break a bruised reed
But would curse a fig tree in a minute
To make a point

He, a shelter of wisdom and compassion
Emancipating whores, the poor,
And even his own mother
You can tell that he was the Vine
He turned that water in to wine
After all

So it made sense that this shoot of Jesse
Would use wine and bread
To describe himself for all to remember
His death –
Sinews like grapes’ innards exposed after skinning
bursting under the whip
His skull ground like grain by a roughly hewn thorn-crown

And that woeful cross
Bossed by centurions, nails
And God Himself
To bear the strange fruit of
Jesus’ body
The sorriest of trees

And the most regal
Its Savior-stained splintered wrath
Plunges to the origin of our Adam and Eve error
Pierces the trunk of our hero on our behalf
And reaches heavenward as if to accept our
Deliverance – the Life fruit finally within our grasp
 

Jesse’s root
Could not stay down
Burst from the grave
Turned water to wine
Wine to blood
Blood to water
Washing us and planting us firmly
In grace and in God’s kingdom
Watered also by the blood of martyrs
From Pakistan to Pretoria
From Tunis to Memphis

But there is a
Tree of Life
In a place better than the Garden
We left behind

Better because
Resurrection sure beats death
And this last tree
From Gospel seed
Is magnificent in verdant majesty
Lush green leaves
Branches bursting with Holy Spirit fruit ripe for our picking

It’s a healer
Of nations
The fulfillment of salvation
Puts an end to fears
And dries all tears

This produce has no bitter after(life) taste
No more strange fruit
From Port au Prince to Paris
From Birmingham to Beirut

And, can you imagine this (I don’t know if you could), the Father
Touches, sniffs, inspects and says

‘This is all good.’

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