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Tell our own story through the Tree of Life - an experiential reflective exercise.

By Jasmine, Sisterhood of St. John the Divine Companion.

Since the last blog post that I wrote about the tree of life, some readers have asked how the tree of life imagery connects with our own storytelling. In this post, I am hoping to present a reflective exercise as part of answering this question. During the pandemic and uncertainties, it is also a good time to reflect and turn our true self to God. I would like to proceed step-by-step as follows.

You will need:

  • Paper

  • Colour pencils

  • an instrument/music listening devices (optional)

  • a heart of openness

The tree of life is a metaphor of your life in which the different elements on the tree represents your past, present and future. On a piece of paper, you will draw the image step-by-step, with the colours in your own choice, and by the end you will find your own story in your artwork. You might say “I am not an artist, I can’t draw.” Remember that the visual component is just for yourself to reflect on and express yourself in a creative way. There is no rush in finishing the work.

Here we are, as we are, and we start from our roots.

  1. Roots and Ground Write down your background. Where are you from? Is there a culture or a community that deeply influenced you in your growth? Do you have a faith background? What are the values that your family of origin brings to you? What are some nutrients that helped you grow when you were a child? What does your ground look like? Is it sandy or hard or fertile? What helps to ground you?

  2. Trunk What are your values? How would you call yourself?

  3. Branches What are your skills and knowledge? What do you know the best?

  4. Leaves and canopy Who are the people you are connected to? How do you know them? How do they shape your canopy? Are there any fallen leaves? Who are the loved ones who have passed away?

  5. Fruit, nuts and/or flowers What are your dreams and hopes for yourself, loved ones, community, and the world? What are some legacies that your loved ones have brought to you?

  6. Animals Are there any animals dwelling or coming close by to your tree of life? Do you like the companions?

  7. Storms What are some events we are surviving or have survived? Are there any damages to your tree? How have you recovered from the storm? What do the animals do when the storm came? What do they do after the storm?

When you have finished the drawing and reflection, you may find your own soundtrack to your tree of life. Do you think of a song? Or what kind of sound or tune will best describe your tree?

This exercise aims to help us become aware of our connections and meanings in our life. Finding out who we are can be an incredible source of strength when facing uncertainties. If there are any issues raised up during the process, please do not hesitate to reach out for professional help. I pray and wish you well during this season of staying home!

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither.

Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)

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