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News of our work in India & Bangladesh November 2005 - April 2006

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Trees and their Fruits

One of the last things which Mother Joan, Sister Rosamund and I did before we left Barisal was for each of us to plant a tree to ensure that we should not be forgotten. These trees were planted beyond the flowerbed in front of the Sisters; Dining Room. From time to time I have been happy to see from photographs that they are still there considerably taller than the small saplings which we planted.

Throughout the Bible we find stories which include trees. There are Adam and Eve and the trees in the Garden of Eden - particularly the tree in the middle of the garden, the fruit of which they were forbidden to eat. But, enticed by the serpent, they disobeyed, and as a result brought punishment and banishment from that garden and toil and trouble into their lives (Genesis ch. 3).

Here in England we can find Oak, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut, Ash, Cedar, Pine and many other woodland trees. In our gardens there are fruit trees - Apple, Pear and Plum, to name but a few. In Bengal, where it is hot and dry one season, cool and pleasant another season, and wet with flooding during the rains, there are trees which thrive in such a climate - too many to mention them all, so I have had to leave out some.

There are the very tall Palm trees with long slender trunks and no branches, but instead fronds of leaves issuing from the top of the tree. Some bear coconuts and others dates. It was fascinating to watch the men climb these trees and throw down the green coconuts which when cut open produce a thirst-quenching drink, or later the brown coconuts with their hard white lining. And in the garden were the small trees which produced lemons, pomelo, mangoes or figs, and the banana ‘tree’.

Often the fruit on a tree can be far out of our reach: then we have to climb to get it. It is possible to stay on the ground and knock off the fruit with a stick, but such fruits are bruised and will not keep. Each apple, plum or pear must be hand-picked and safely stored if it is to last until it is needed. I remember the trays of apples and pears separated from one another which were stored in the cellar at home, and the times we checked to see if any were bad so that they could be put on the compost heap and not contaminate any other fruit. We also checked the pears to see if they had ‘wakened’ and were ripe enough to eat.

Collecting fruit was not always a safe procedure - I earned a cracked elbow when I fell out of an apple tree when stretching to reach an apple higher in the tree and overbalanced.

Zacchaeus, short of stature, showed us another way a tree can help when he climbed it to get a good view of Jesus as he passed by surrounded by a crowd of people. Jesus, aware of his need, called him down from the tree, and that contact with Jesus changed Zacchaeus’s life.

Each of us has a family tree from which we can see who were our ancestors. How far back can you trace yours - and what fruit has it produced?

Mother SE

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