“Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.”
I was obsessed with climbing trees when I was young. I loved getting as high as I could, hugging the trunk with my knees and listening to the wind in the leaves. My favourite picture book was called, Samuel’s Treehouse, about a little duck who lived with his two friends, Samantha and Owl. Samuel decided to build a treehouse and started collecting everything he needed. Although his friends offered to help him, Samuel was determined to build it all by himself. Before he managed to get the roof in place, a storm came and a branch from above crashed through the feeble structure. Samuel was devastated but his friends helped him to safety, and the next day, everyone pitched in and helped him complete his little house.
I begged Mum to allow me to build a tree house at the bottom of the garden. She refused, and not unreasonably. The tree was a large gum and had no low branches for a 7yo – a ladder was required. So instead, I would climb to the top of our monkey bars, and gaze up at the gum, pretending I had my own treehouse. I longed to be cradled in the tree’s creaking branches, living forever in all its leafy glory.
The metaphor of the vine in today’s Gospel speaks so beautifully to an understanding of God. An image of earth-producing shoots would have the same effect. The symbiosis of the natural world reminds us that, removed from the source, survival is unlikely. This is our life in God – we must work hard to build our lives as branches of the vine, assisting and accepting help from our brothers and sisters when we face challenges, but never cutting ourselves off from the origin of all life.
I never did build a treehouse but looking back, I find I have been living in one all my life.
Angela Marquis works as a chaplain in a Tasmanian local primary school and with the Passionists at St Joseph’s Hobart Parish. She completed a Master of Theology in 2021 and is currently studying Biblical Hebrew with the Israel Institute. She enjoys rock climbing and long leisurely beach walks with her husband and four-legged daughter.