A Poison Tree


I was angry with my friend:

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe:

I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears

Night and morning with my tears,

And I sunned it with smiles

And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,

Till it bore an apple bright,

And my foe beheld it shine,

And he knew that it was mine, -

And into my garden stole

When the night had veiled the pole;

In the morning, glad, I see

My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Jack Kornfield, in A Path with Heart, tells the story of a poisoned tree. On first discovering it, some people thought it should be cut down, because it was a danger to people and animals. Others, who hated the idea of cutting down trees, said, ‘No, but we should build a fence around it, to isolate it.’ But there came a wise man who took some of the fruit of the poisoned tree, investigated its properties and devised from it a medicine that cured a deadly disease. “Through respect and understanding, this person sees in a way opposite to most people and finds value in the most difficult circumstances.”   

In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.