Resurrection on One Tree Hill
By Susan Oxley of Renton, WA, USA
Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. -Isaiah: 2:3-4 NRSV
In the 1700’s a New Zealand Maori tribe established their home on a small mountain they called “the totara (tree) that stands alone.” When Europeans arrived in Auckland, one tree still stood at the summit. One Tree Hill became a symbol beloved by Maori and Europeans alike. During the late 1990’s the Europeans and Maori were working to restore land to the native people. Maori activists attacked the one tree as a protest against injustice. Both Maori and European inhabitants mourned when the tree died in 2000. A monument to the Maori and a commemorative marker to the European founder of Auckland were built on the hill. But there was no tree.
A committee began talking about which native tree to plant on the summit. When I married Ron in 2012, they still had made no decision. Ron chafed under the delay. The tree had been a symbol of hope to him all his life. He waited impatiently for news that a tree would be planted on One Tree Hill.
I took Ron to Auckland for the last time in late July of 2016. The trip weakened his failing health. He was unable to do more than receive visitors and talk briefly. Finally he regained some strength. On the last day of our trip, we drove to the summit of One Tree Hill. Ron managed to climb the stairs to the memorial and marker. Imagine his delight to discover a small fenced area on the summit where eight little trees had been planted! Officials will care for the small grove, gradually transplanting the weakest trees to other sites until only one strong, native tree remains.
Ron died two weeks later. But he had lived to witness the new life on One Tree Hill. The symbol of Auckland lives again, and with it, a symbol of hope for new generations. There will once again be a solitary tree on One Tree Hill. For Ron, it was evidence that resurrection happens in many ways. Loss is temporary. Life-new life-continues, and with it, hope for the future.
Spirit, now live in me.
Breathe deeply and enter a few minutes of silence. Be attentive to where you sense new life emerging in you. Search your memories of the previous day. When did you notice the sacredness of life in surprising places or forms in the world around you?
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