A Saint was taking a walk through a grove of tall blooming fruit trees when he stopped to rest at the foot of a large mulberry tree. The tree saw him sitting there and spoke to the Saint, “Where from have you come? Where to are you going?”

It is important to note that the details of Saint’s reply are inconsequential. All that is relevant to this story is that the tree was greatly impressed by the adventures described by the Saint. Also important, is the fact that the places the Saint said he was traveling towards sounded equally impressive.

[You may insert your own tales of dueling demons, slaying dragons, casting out devils, multiplying food and wealth, floating in the air, treading on water, making friends among spirits and nymphs, singing with invisible voices, and flying through space.]

The tree sighed a slow, solemn sigh, as evidenced by the soft wind pressing through its leafy limbs. The Saint looked at the tree and asked, “My Dear friend, why do you sigh so solemnly? Were my stories disappointing to you?”

The tree replied, “No Sir, the stories were tremendous. I have never heard the like before, and I have had many travelers take rest on my trunk with many stories of their own. You are truly a Saint and I greatly enjoy your company.”

“Then what is it that troubles you?” Asked the Saint.

“Sir, it is just that, I yearn to walk with you, and be a part of one of these stories myself.”

The Saint had compassion for the tree and suggested thus: “My Dear leafy friend, you are far better off where you are. In fact your story is larger than my own flashy tales. You are the entire earth if only you realised! I swear to you, I swear to my Lord, you are better off as you are. But I cannot stand to leave you in such misery. If there is one boon I can grant you for giving me rest here, with the authority of my God, I will grant it so that you would be happy.”

The tree bustled with delight at this offer and immediately gave his request: “Sir, take me with you on your next adventure and I will be happier than I have ever been!’

So the Saint kneeled at the foot of the tree trunk and spoke a secret prayer, in a secret language, and on the authority of his God, the roots of the tree ascended from the earth and turned to feet, and the limbs to arms and hands, and the trunk to a strong torso, and the buds to eyes, ears and mouth, its leaves to organs, the flowers to a heart, and its bark to a modest cloak. Thus the tree was transformed into the body of a man who immediately prostrated itself at the feet of the Saint and praised the Lord for his mercy and grace.

“Thank you dear Sir! I will follow you to the ends of the world, to the edges of heaven! I am ever so happy!” Said the tree.

The Saint smiled, but in his heart he was sad. He said to the tree, “You were better off as you were, but come with me and we will be companions now.”

In this space the narrator will point out that the exact adventures that followed need not be specified. What is important is that the tree followed the Saint to various interesting and intriguing countries, met creatures that were seen and unseen, flew to heaven, descended to purgatory, freed lost souls, trapped found demons, fought alongside heroes, and discovered several treasures and sacred relics.

However, as they travelled the tree grew weaker and weaker. It was hungry, but food would not satisfy its hunger. It was thirsty, but water did not quench its needs. It was tired, but sleep did not leave it rested. It was in pain, but the adventures would not distract. After a time, the excitement dwindled.

“Sir”, the tree said after a while, “I am weak, and weary, and I think I am ill. I have seen everything there is to see, but my discomfort leaves me unable to think about anything but hunger.”

The Saint frowned at the tree, “Indeed dear friend, you are very hungry, and very ill.”

“Sir”, the tree says, “Without food – my heart, dear sir, my heart feels all withered inside.” (Remember, the heart was consisted of its flowers)

The Saint took a deep hard look at the tree and asked, “Did not our adventures make you happy? Was not your freedom worth a little discomfort?”

The tree replied, “Dear sir! All I can think of is quenching my hunger and thirst. In my heart, I cannot find where that delight has gone. And my curiosity is dimmed, and my memories are faded. My freedom is a whisper next to the screaming pain in my spirit.”

The tree added as an after thought, “I think I am dying.”

And the Saint looked mildly surprised and said, “My Dear friend, but you died the moment you were uprooted! You were better off as you were, sustained and connected. But now, no food will feed you, no water will hydrate your limbs, and no fruit will mature from your withering heart. Did you not feel when your roots were cut from the earth?”

At this the tree lamented, “But I feel it now! Please have mercy!”

At this the Saint replied, “What do you want from me!? I give you advice, you do not take it. I give you freedom, you regret it. Now you seek to avoid calamity after it has already happened! When you were the earth, you could have any boon. But you are deadwood now.”

So the tree moaned, “Is there any mercy in death then?”

“You tell me”, replied the Saint.

The Mulberry Tree, by Vincent Van Gogh, 1889