Obscurity, a forest nymph, believed that hiding out in the roots of a willow that grew beside the river was the safest place in the whole wide world. She had clung there for years and years – through droughts and floods – even the construction of a housing estate on the river flats and the building of a six lane freeway overpass just a stone’s throw away. While all these events had been going on she had wrapped her legs tighter round the tree roots and hung on for dear life. She was so inoffensive and quiet even the willow tree above her had forgotten she was there. To its own detriment it might be added, for what is a tree without its protective spirit – nothing more than a collection of wood and leaves – a sad drooping excuse for a tree – a poor bedraggled specimen with no vitality at all – a very sad tree indeed.
People were beginning to notice. They wrote letters to the Council. “That tree,” they said, “that willow down near the overpass – it’s a disgrace – an eyesore. It should be cut down.” The Council Tree Inspector came down to take a look. He had to agree. The thing was ugly – nearly dead. It was time it was removed. There would be an outcry of course. Tree removal always upset people but there seemed no other course of action.
Events proceeded to proceed until the imminent removal of the tree hit the front page of the local paper. Tree lovers banded together and formed an action group. They sought second and third opinions on the health of the tree. Experts were found who felt the tree could be saved. What it would take was a massive injection of love.
The call went out – ‘if you love trees come now, there’s a tree that needs saving’. Tree lovers from across the country heeded the call. Even international tree lovers arrived. A camp was set up and people took turns to hug the tree and whisper loving words into the leaves. Deep down below Obscurity stirred. She had known the tree was ill but she’d been powerless to help it. Just as the tree had withered, so had she. Now she felt the love pouring down the trunk into the roots and from there, into her very being.
Slowly Obscurity grew stronger. Love was she’d been needing all along. All those droughts and flooding rains, the building of the housing estate with the roar of construction and that ugly freeway overpass had depressed her.
Now as tree lovers poured the pure love in their hearts into the tree she heard the voice of her Soul. “You must find the strength to show yourself Obscurity,” it whispered. “You have a job to do. You have been entrusted with the sacred duty to care and protect this tree. To do that you must be brave. You must show your beauty to the world. Life isn’t about staying safe – it’s about being true to yourself – it’s about fulfilling your potential.”
Obscurity listened. She knew the words were true. Letting go of the roots she shapeshifted into a beautiful white dove. “Look,” said the tree lovers. “It is the dove of peace and hope.” They raised their eyes in wonder as the dove flittered around the tree and alighted on the top branch.
The tree responded with a shiver of joy. New green shoots appeared on the topmost branches then spread down in a curtain of beauty that veiled the hard edges of the housing estate and gave it a lived in, homely atmosphere.
Children put aside their iPhones and came out to play. Husbands pulled barbeques out of the garage and texted friends to come over. Wives emerged from their work stations. They put aside their schedules and their duties and laughed with their neighbours. In the background the freeway overpass mellowed and took on the ambience of a graceful Japanese bridge. The tree lovers hugged each other and another dove – a male – flew down and joined Obscurity, “I am so glad you decided to show yourself,” he tweeted ‘You are my one true love.”
Obscurity’s white feathers glowed. “I think I’ll change my name,” she decided.