Once there was a gardener who kept a great estate for a wealthy client. The gardener was very talented and did amazing things with his client’s grounds. He was especially adept at taking care of diseased plants. In fact, his reputation grew to the point that he often traveled to diagnose problems that other master gardeners could not fix. Over time his relationship with the estate owner grew so that he became like family to the man. He moved into a fine home adjoining the estate and was given an inheritance of the estate orchard when the owner passed away. This orchard was immense, and the gardener earned a good living, but he had a special relationship with a beautiful large apple tree in the center of the orchard. You see, it was the first thing he planted when he began working on the estate and he always treated it in a special way, with love and reverence. He even crafted a large tree house for his children in it. Whenever the family got together for picnics during fine weather, the tree was witness. Then, one season the tree began to exhibit some symptoms of disease. The gardener treated them, but eventually he realized that the tree’s sickness was beyond even his great talent. Eventually, the last leaf fell and rain in the form of the gardener’s tears touched the ground beneath where the apple tree’s branches yielded tasty apples and relief from the hot sun. Some time later the gardener began a project that kept him busy in his workshop for hours on end. He stayed up late many evenings until finally the project was completed. It was a beautiful curio cabinet with intricate scroll work and inlaid glass for shelves and doors. He placed it at one end of the family dining room where everyone would see it when they shared meals. Inside he placed all of their favorite photos, the children growing up, graduating, getting married, loved friends. And so, the apple tree lived on, sheltering the family as it always had.
Memory Tree come shelter me,
in God’s orchard when I am gone.
Show heaven’s stars through your leaves once again,
then rustle with the wind at dawn.
Be the meeting place as my friends and family
move on to their reward.
You are God’s gift to me in heaven as you were on earth.
© Joel Tipple
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