Friday, August 16, 2013

The Rod and the Tree

It is obvious that we live in darkness. Like one whose sight becomes obscured by a lack of light, we feel around our worldly abode like a bull in a china shop, running the risk of colliding with those beings and things who remain stationary. What are these objects, you ask? They are ideas, pieces of knowledge, and supposed truths, all acting as obstacles in our quest to find our way to the light. Of course, these intellectual stumbling blocks can also act as a guiding post, something to cling to as we make our way through the darkness. But you can only grasp onto an object for so long - sooner or later we must break free of them, or else run the risk of never reaching the delights of illumination.

But we suddenly find something new, a sturdy piece of material without adornment or texture which blazes its way through the darkness. It is a metal rod. We initially cling to it without thought, as it seems as good a method as any for finding our way. Some of us may even find its inherent metallic rigidity appealing, but those who dislike its bland monotony soon see the apparent foolishness of clinging to it for longer than a few moments. But if we persist in clinging to this piece of metal, we find that it extends much farther than we expected. In fact, as we continue to press our way forward into the darkness, something happens: we see light.

Far off in the distance, we perceive a source of illumination faintly piercing through the dark obscurity. This will understandably make us very eager, and may lead us to press forward all the more quickly to the light. Others of us, excited by their new vision, may deem the rod entirely unnecessary and obsolete in their quest out of darkness. But alas, the light is still so dim that those who abandon the rod soon find their way back to darkness and again become lost. 

Those who persist soon see the shape of the light's source: a tree. This gives us pause, for we then begin to wonder if the light we so eagerly sought after may not actually be the only thing that drives us forward. Could there be something else at the end of journey? If this light comes from a tree, does it have a fruit? 

Soon we reach the end of the rod, leaving the tree almost within arm's reach. As we pluck the fruit off of its luminescent foliage and take a bite, we feel something entirely new: not light, not knowledge, but pure love. We soon realize that light is a paltry pleasure compared with this joy of joys, and that none of the objects we clung to in our quest provides the peace we find here. Knowledge, we see, is not the end of all things. Though we previously sought after the light of truth and understanding, we begin to realize that these are only tools, used to bring us to the source of this celestial fruit. 

The natural reaction upon eating this fruit is to share it with the others who struggle in the darkness. You want more than anything for them to feel what you feel, to let them know what joy comes from this transcendent love. But this proves problematic. Though we want to go back into the darkness to aid those who have not tasted love, we would risk the greatest danger by returning to obscurity. If we did this, substituting the dim light of truth for the great joy of love, we would only risk our own ability to return to the tree. Both the savior and the saved would be lost, and all would be for naught.

We can only ever call through the darkness, and hope that the other has ears to hear. Notwithstanding the danger of venturing back into the mists of darkness, to lead another along the iron rod would be coercion, causing them to press forward to something in which they have no interest. The only person who can appreciate this fruit, this love of God, is one who takes the journey of faith on their own. Only then can we be sure that they will remain by the tree, and ever bask in the radiance of its love.

The iron rod is the word of God, and only by clinging to its doctrines, stories, and commandments can we begin to experience the fruit of God which lies at the end of its path. This will prove difficult, and may cause frustration or despair. The word can be monotonous, boring, and unfairly rigid at times, but it is the only real way out of the darkness and toward the light's source. But light is not the end of all things. Blazing behind it all is a roaring fire of love, and by reaching the tree we can taste it and take it into us. For love alone is our goal, and love alone is real.

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