Flowering Mountain Earth (Rev. Tom VandeStadt)
Before there was a world there stood a solitary deified tree. As the world’s creation approached the tree became pregnant with life. From its many branches sprouted one of everything, not only physical objects like maize and deer but things like lightening and time. The tree produced so many things that its abundance became impossible to support and hold. The fruit fell from its branches and one of everything smashed open and scattered seeds all around the tree. Soon there were countless young seedlings surrounding the foot of the tree and the tree provided shelter for the plants as they grew, nurturing them until the new plants finally crowded out the tree. Since then the tree has existed as a living stump at the center of the world.
Tzutuhil Mayans from Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala symbolized this myth called Flowering Mountain Earth as a mountain with a maize sprout on top and they placed this image in their community’s Catholic Church. Traditional Tzutuhils believe that as long as they feed and care for the stump it will continue regenerating life. They ritually care for the stump and feed it by placing offerings into a hole in the ground they call rmuxux, which means umbilicus.
This “tree of life” myth is not simply a story that people tell to account for the beginning of the world in the remote past. It conveys the story people are living in the present day, the story of their reciprocal relationship with flowering Earth. People are one of everything and they owe their existence to the source of everything. Life’s source is alive and like life itself it requires constant care. Just as the source of life protects and nurtures life so must people protect and nurture the source of their life. Their very existence depends on it.
The immediate source of our existence is Earth. Whether you believe God created the cosmos and Earth, prefer a scientific explanation for our origin or relish the mystery of our being here the fact remains that planet Earth is the immediate source of our existence. We are literally Earth’s fruit. Earth is alive and like all that lives Earth requires care. Our care. Earth requires protection and nurture. Ours. Our relationship with Earth is reciprocal and our very existence depends on our continuing care for Earth. If we stop caring, if we stop protecting and nurturing our source, our story will not turn out well.
The fact remains that planet Earth is the immediate source of our existence. We are literally Earth’s fruit. Earth is alive and like all that lives Earth requires care. Our care.