Two trees growing up in the garden…..

I’ve heard it told of two trees growing up in a garden,
two filters,  two perspectives,  two ways;
one a driven religion to be right and know,
to category and label living things.
Superiority feels like shelter in this system
and it demands that those who eat it’s fruit conform.

The second tree is freedom from this judgement,
instead it holds both the dark night cold and the clear sky blue
without fearing the colors and range.
Doesn’t demonize or categorize but
a spacious system supple enough to let people be where they are
until they aren’t.
This living-tree pulses powerful with compassion and grief
while the knowing tree draws from roots of punishment and shame.

These trees can be felt everywhere
like a river running through.
You can feel the slap and shove of the knowing tree when you
question,  when you try to listen open,
when you draw back from the fast food it’s selling.
It has no patience for growing and preparing food for thought,
no tolerance for the slowness of God.
There is a quietude to the living tree
because it doesn’t bristle,
controlling and scared.
 The knowing tree rages at this living tree’s generous way
because it fears the living,
doesn’t do the messy,
of living things.

And humans are hard to get to know
without a lot of time and trust and conversation,
especially if your goal is to narrow down the wide
into piles of evil and good.

Perhaps the human heart was never meant for dissecting at all.
Knowing someone can take a lifetime
and the knowing tree has no patience for this mystery.
It wants cliff notes filed through fast
instead of a novel to discover and digest.

Humans are bewildering to the knowing tree,
often simply problems to be solved.
So the way people are wired is a conundrum for the knowing tree
which likes to keep a tidy god,  well-managed and contained.
Left brained or right,
liberal or conservative,
religious or secular,
engineer or artist
– an impossibly ridiculous (and unnecessary) range.
This unholy mosh must be cooked down into a self-same stew
because there is no rest for those in the stranglehold of this system
if it can’t get a vice grip handle
on evil and good.

It has to be one or the other,
which is likely why the fruit from this tree
has such a harsh and bitter bite.

It will say,  with authority,  what it “knows”
as if it’s perfectly and positively true.
It scrambles to this knowing without question
and ascertains the motives of a heart,
what’s gonna happen next,
what someone meant by what they said or did,
and,  especially,
what God thinks and feels about
pretty much everything.

And this tree thrives because we humans have a powerful low tolerance
for looking stupid
so if we’re gonna live from a freer place
we have to make peace
with looking a fool.

Yeah,  the knowing tree has mastered the art of mocking.
Of the side-eye,  the eye roll,  the mic drop and the sneer.
And it offers up what Anne Lamott calls “snappy explanations for suffering.”
The knowing tree has it all figured out.
You can check your gut at the door and simply pick up your pre-approved script.
(to be continued…)

“There is nothing you can’t prove if only your outlook
is sufficiently limited.”
– Dorothy Sayers

(this feels like storytime with Jenny and I’m loving the telling,
my heart especially needs it now to hear.
I aim to come back next week with another portion;
I need to write this,
especially as I fall deeper in love with the living tree
and also grieve it out, all the unholy knowing that I’ve done.
~ thanks for your always generous patience
in my working it out.)

To celebrate the living in the tangle of these times,
I want to give away a bundle.
A signed book,  some art,  and some handwritten love
from me to you.
Leave a comment and your name goes into the drawing:)


  1. Elephants Child on September 16, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    I hope (so much) that I am a living tree. About the only thing I KNOW with any certainty is how little I know.
    With hugs and gratitude. Always.

    • jennifer on September 19, 2021 at 12:37 pm

      I so much appreciate getting to look out this window
      and see pictures and perspectives in your world.
      Thank you always for your visits.
      Love and shelter,

  2. Janet Savold on September 17, 2021 at 6:28 am

    Really love the story of two trees! The one so spacious and supple, yet still narrow at the same time. LOVE

    • jennifer on September 19, 2021 at 12:36 pm

      Yes – able to hold it all:)
      Thanks dear you:)
      Love and shelter,

  3. Jane on September 17, 2021 at 7:28 am

    Every morning I have multiple things worth reading my inbox; nothing thrills me more than to see Ripplespeak among them. As always, your words touch my soul. Thank you sweet, gentle, brilliant Jennifer!

    • jennifer on September 19, 2021 at 12:35 pm

      I appreciate the read every time, Jane.
      I know it’s a lot in this noisy busy world
      and I can’t thank you enough that you take the time.
      Love and shelter,

  4. Rebecca on September 17, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    Whenever I read your words, I always feel seen and, so, less lonely. Thank you!

    • jennifer on September 19, 2021 at 12:34 pm

      I love that, Rebecca – thanks for sharing.
      Your words make me feel heard and, so also, less lonely.
      Thank you:)
      Love and shelter,

  5. Lisa on September 17, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Such honest revelations in your message. How I too have struggled in the tangle of two sirens in dense fog, which is the sanctuary? I read your words with kindred compassion. Turning from the hard edges of one, carrying with me that which is grace but moving to heart-beating shelter of the other. 🙋‍♀️

    • jennifer on September 19, 2021 at 12:32 pm

      Thanks, Lisa – sirens in the dense fog. Yes:)
      Grateful for the grace to do this life so imperfectly:)
      Love and shelter,

  6. jeanie on September 19, 2021 at 7:17 pm

    I don’t want to be like the knowing tree. Sometimes it’s hard, isn’t it? But we must try. this is so beautiful — I eagerly await the next chapter.

    • jennifer on October 10, 2021 at 9:41 am

      I don’t either. And, yes, it’s hard! I think we’re immersed
      and it’s an upstream swim:)
      Thanks for coming by for a read.
      I appreciate you so:)

  7. Judith Bullock on September 21, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    The symbolism holds me and is soothing. A big eye-opener to me and is truth for the season(s) then, here & now. Your writing encourages me to “get back in the saddle” or hammock I’d prefer. Thank you for being you! Going back to read again!

    • jennifer on October 10, 2021 at 9:41 am

      I’m so glad you came by for a read, Judy.
      Thanks for your kind encouragement.
      Back in the hammock:) I love that:)
      – Jennifer

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