The enormous redwood tree, ancient and failing, trembled. With a crackling, tearing sound, the unimaginable began to happen. Near the base, one side of the giant trunk began to crumple, like the first three floors of a collapsing building. On the opposite side, more than twenty feet away, a split suddenly appeared in the massive bark. The split grew vertically, slowly for a moment, then more rapidly as it widened.

Ever so slowly the mountain of wood, thousands of years old, began to move. In a canopy hundreds of feet above the forest floor, the top swayed in the wind, but this time, when it reached the end of its sway, it continued downward. The ripping, tearing sound grew until it was louder than the roar of a freight train. Tons of fiber, centuries in the making, started their last journey.

As the giant fell, it sheared huge branches, larger than oak trees, from neighbouring redwoods. Down and down it fell with awesome force. Nothing could stop it now, and nothing did. It hit the forest floor, bounced once and came to a final rest.

The thunder fell silent. In a few minutes, thousands of years of reaching toward the sun ended in one final embrace of the Earth. Slowly, the sounds of the forest returned. Insects buzzed, and leaves rustled in the breeze. Small animals reappeared cautiously, and larger animals began to move again.

This is part of a love story. The leaves, the trunk, the branches, and the roots were in love with each other.

Their love was continual. New leaves gently replaced those that turned brown. The redwood remained green for centuries, but none of the leaves on it were centuries old. The bark loved the roots, and the roots loved the branches. The trunk held them together and the leaves nourished them all.

The love story of the redwood tree had other characters in it, too. It loved the Earth and the sky. It reached for both from the moment it sprouted to the moment of its dramatic fall. It loved the birds that nested in its branches, the animals that sheltered beneath it, and the insects that fed from its bark. They were one family, full and complete.

Does this story sound familiar? It should. You see it everywhere you look, inside and out.

The cells in your body love each other. Your blood loves your heart and your lungs. Your spine loves your brain. Your body is a love story that continues day after day. Every part of your body gives what other parts need, and receives from them what it needs. You are a walking, talking story of love.

Every love story is part of a larger love story, and every love story, no matter how large or small, has endless stories of love within it. The Universe has countless galaxies. Each galaxy has countless stars. Each star has countless molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles dancing within it, becoming one another, splitting apart in many ways, and coming together again.

The biggest love story has no beginning, like we do, and the redwood trees do. It doesn’t have an end either. We are parts of that story. Sometimes when we glimpse it, we are awed and delighted. Scientists call this big love story “interconnectivity.” Nothing exists without everything else. When we think that anything can exist without us, it is because we are only seeing a small part of a few love stories. Sometimes, we don’t even see our own.

The love stories happen whether we see them or not. The love story of the tree does not end when the tree falls. A new chapter begins. The tree decays and gives all of itself back to the Earth. Insects devour it, and birds eat the insects. Bees make hives in it and bears eat the honey from the hives. Even when the tree disappears, the story is not over. More trees appear, and more insects, birds and animals, too. When the forest disappears, the story does not end. Even when the Earth ends, which it will do some day, the story does not end. It has no ending.

–       From Soul Stories by Gary Zukav

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