Emily lay reclining in her
bed, propped by pillows but unable to move. She
had lived for ninety-four years but now sensed
death was near.
Through the window she
could see the imposing cedar that dominated the
lower part of the garden. As a child, she had
played in its branches and rested in its shade.
Emily reflected that the tree would survive her
and might easily live beyond her great, great
Slowly the room began to
dim until she was enveloped by darkness. Emily
felt no fear; simply calm.
A point of light pierced
the blackness, and she felt herself being drawn
towards it. This luminous dot expanded like the
approaching egress of a tunnel.
Emily walked from the
darkness into a sunlit forest. It was a strange
forest, populated by many more trees than she
could name species which never grew
A reassuring voice sounded from the wood.
Is this heaven?
Its the realm
of the Great Spirit of the Forests, came
Emily struggled to
understand: Will I meet Jesus?
the Voice responded in a kindly and sympathetic
tone. The Middle Eastern religions
didnt get it quite right.
Oh dear, she
stuttered anxiously as the truth began to dawn.
Ive been a devout Christian all my
life and tried to follow biblical teachings. Does
that mean Ive offended the Real God?
The reassuring Voice
returned: Not at all. Its true that
the Real God is the Universal Spirit worshiped by
North American Indians through their reverence of
nature. You, however, have loved and respected
your fellow human beings and done your best to
conserve the environment. The Voice
continued: You have done very well indeed,
Are members of all
religions welcome here? enquired Emily.
All religions and
none, answered the Voice. Although
those who arrive with tattered rucksacks, seeking
virgins tend to be rather disappointed. As are
those from the American Bible Belt who are
looking for Hells viewing platform and
hoping to taunt burning evolutionists for all
There was a pause before
the Voice answered the question posed by
Emilys bewildered silence: Life on
Earth occurs in two phases, it explained.
Souls first spend a lifetime as humans to
gain experience of existence. Then they may spend
many incarnations as the spirits of trees,
meditating on the nature of reality until they
attain Wisdom and thus Union with the Great
What will now become
of me? asked Emily.
You will return as
the spirit of a tree appropriate to your karma
a fine, mature and magnificent timber.
A dense mist rapidly
descended upon the forest.
What happens to those
fundamentalists? Her curiosity seemed to
echo into the distance, and she could barely hear
the faint reply:
They tend to keep
returning as leylandii. The words of the
Voice faded to silence.
Emily peered into the fog
and could begin to discern the shape of a
building. The view became clearer, and she
realised that the structure was her home.
She was high in the air,
looking down upon children, laughing and playing
in the garden.
She sensed that time had
passed, and with joy she realised that these
youngsters were her great, great grandchildren.
Now she was the
Spirit of that now mighty cedar.