“Chasing after the wind”

Another post that came from a bedtime story. It is probably also on the line between profound truth and trite cliche. The image is in no way original – it appeared centuries ago in Psalm 1.

“A little tree grew on the edge of a copse on a hillside. From where it stood it could just a see the top of a small clump of trees on the other side of the hill.

There was always a breeze around the hillside. In springtime, it would whisk up the blossom from the rest of the copse and whirl their petals round to the little tree. And when the leaves came out, the wind brought the little tree the whispering of all the others branches.

The little tree would sigh to the wind: “I wish I grew in that clump of trees” she said. Their blossom is prettier, their branches sway together and more people come to sit in their shade.  “Yes”, said the wind. “Look at their petals I bring you; listen to their whispers. They are surely better and happier trees than you are. If only you were like them, then it would be your blossom that would dance with the others, and your whispers I would carry around the hill.” “I would so love that”, sighed the little tree.

One night, there was a storm. The rain flooded down the hillside and took with it some of the soil. In the morning the little tree found that all the swaying in the wind had wriggled one of its roots near the top of the soil. “Hurrah for the wind”, it thought. “It is helping me to get free.”  As it continued to bend and sway, the root came right up and the two on either side started to work their way out as well. The tree started to list to one side and the wind urged it on.

The next night there was another storm, and more of the soil was churned up. The little tree had really started to come away from the earth. It started to notice that its leaves  were fading  – the roots couldn’t draw up what they needed. The tree started to feel quite unwell. But the soil continued to move.

Later that day, the farmer who owned the hillside came up to inspect the damage. He went to the clump of trees first, and took down some of the intertwined branches muttering that there were “growing too close”. Then he came round the side of the hill where the little tree was.

“Little tree!”, he exclaimed, digging the roots back in again. “How will you ever grow fine blossom, strong branches and broad leaves, unless your roots are deep and strong? Don’t be swayed by the wind! It will only urge you on and on. Everything you need to flourish is right here; where I planted you. The wind is strong. When it whistles you must push your roots in more deeply or you will never be still long enough settle and grow.”

The storm had given the tree quite a shock. For a moment, it had felt what it was like to be really blown by the wind and feel its roots give way. And for a time afterwards, it still felt a bit unsteady. Every day it continued to feel the wind, even if it was just as a light breeze, taunting the tree with the sounds and smells from around the hillside. But the farmer kept coming back, securing the roots in a little more firmly each time. And over time, the tree learnt to brace itself against the wind, dig deep through its roots and draw up all the goodness it needed to blossom – just where it was.”

 

 

 

 

“I saw a bargain today”

As a child I thought shops made the things they sold. The idea that toys were made the other side of the world seemed outlandish. With online shopping it seems almost like magic. But, as Fairtrade Fortnight highlights, everything we buy is made and put together by real people, living real lives, every step of the way.

“I saw a bargain today”

A fabulous dress;
A pair of shoes:
Much cheaper online
How could I refuse?
Arriving tomorrow, at no extra cost.
I hurried to ‘click’, before it was lost.
But just as I hovered, I heard someone say
“Let me show you who paid for your bargain today”.

She showed me the fields where the cotton was grown;
And the pitiful payment the farmers took home.
She showed me the rivers where pesticides flow;
And the fields alongside them, where crops barely grow.

I covered my ears but I still heard her say:
“There are others who paid for your bargain today”

She showed me the factories away in the East,
Where shifts are the longest and wages the least.
She showed me the workers too scared to protest
As the contracts must follow the cheapest, not best.

I told her “Enough!” but I still heard her say:
“Yet others will pay for your bargain today.”

The packers from warehouses, too tired to stand;
The child breathing fumes from the couriers round;
The fish eating fibres washed down to the deep;
The families who live near the burning trash heap;

Then my children looked up and I heard them say:
“How long ’til we pay for your bargain today?”

I saw a bargain today.”

After this poem appeared on http://www.joyinenough.org in February 2021, Izzy Barrett (https://www.instagram.com/izustrations/) shared this  fabulous picture.