top of page

Love and Growth

“Keep a clear eye towards life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s creature. What you are in his sight is what you are and nothing more. Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing that you have received…but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.” ~~ Francis of Assisi

In the middle of the garden stood a gnarled and ill shaped apple tree. The roots had made a cage above the ground, as if they could not find the strength to push beneath the topsoil. If you were quiet enough and treaded gently on the earth around this little apple tree and took the time to look deeply into the root cage, you would see a tiny child lying underneath the apple tree, protected by the root cage. If you were very, very quiet and you could get to the apple tree before the child saw you, you would see that this was a girl child. A terrified, dirty little specimen of a human being living behind the cage.

She had learnt a long time ago that if she tried to come out and play, a wolf or a bear would frighten her and chase her back into the protection of this gnarled apple tree. She learnt when it was safe to come out to play and looked for apples on her tree, but the apples were always bitter and small and never could sustain her and help her grow.

One day, as she was hiding in her hide away, she felt the tree give a little shudder as if it shook something off itself. She quickly peaked out, she couldn’t see anything but deep within her belly she had a feeling that something was about to change, she could vaguely smell the change in the air. It was a gentle sweet smell of apple blossom. She returned to her hide away.

A few days later the tree made an even bigger shudder, but this time the shuddering did not stop. The overwhelming shuddering forced the little wretched girl to leave her hide away and watch with amazement as the apple tree started to grow and grow and grow. The roots started pushing beyond the hard crust of the topsoil finding the rich nourishing earth beneath. Lush green grass grew over the dry crusty soil. Apple tree branches extended. Big green leaves pushed out all over the tree. Apple blossoms appeared as if by magic. The scent was intoxicating.

The little girl was ecstatic, nothing in her wildest dreams could prepare her for the transformation that was happening before her eyes. For the first time in her life, she felt safe. The ground was soft with lush green grass, the birds were singing, the bees were bussing, and she laughed and laughed and laughed, that deep belly laugh that you have when you feel overjoyed by being saved and being safe. She felt safe! the bear and the wolf had GONE.

The little girl played under the tree. Slept in the branches of the tree and ate the sweet apples the tree provided for her.

But, while all the magic happened and was happening, there was a strange phenomenon on either side of the tree. When she allowed herself to stand a distance off from her tree, it looked as if the tree had wings. Not really wings like a bird’s wings, more like screens, yes that was it, screens. These screens were attached to the trunk of the tree by a rectangle wooden frame and in the middle of the frame was white paper. She ran back to the tree and stood in front of the wooden frame that reached from the ground to the branches. It wasn’t unpleasant to look at, it was made from soft gentle material. She ran to the other side of the tree, and she saw the same thing that side. This frame prevented her from playing at the back of the tree.

She was not worried though; she was so happy playing in front of the tree and eating its fruit and sleeping in its branches.

Deep within her, she felt a stirring, she was drawn to the frames. She would sit in front of the frames wondering what lay behind there. One day she bravely decided to look for a way to break through the covering to see what was on the other side. She found a tiny little pen knife hiding behind one of the roots of her apple tree. She nervously cut a little hole in the screen and waited for something to happen. Nothing happened!

She peeped through the hole and could vaguely make out some water, flowers. Gingerly she cut through the screen, making the space cut big enough to step through. As she put her leg through the opening, she felt power surge through her foot. She had never felt anything like this before!

She bravely stepped through the screen and was engulfed by life. Was it love she felt?

I told this story to one of my clients. Her childhood story is a sad story. Sadly a story that so many children and women face in this world. A story of terror and abuse.

She has worked at her healing and at giving forgiveness for the hurt she sustained as a child and a young woman. She did a remarkable job seeing her perpetrators as hurt weak people that did the best they could. She casts no blame on anyone. She said to me, “Tracey who is to blame, I can start with my dad, then I have to look at his father then his father, who do I blame! There is no one to blame.” To listen to her journey of healing is awe inspiring. I am grateful that she crossed my path.

The reason for the story, after three years of deep, deep work, she is “stuck” in her healing. While working with her, I found that every time I spoke or tried to work on new concepts for growth, she would fall back into her healing. Her story became the safety net of her life, her new identity, maybe. She will shut down the conversation if I happen to turn her past her healing to dig deeper. I told the story in hopes that she would step back from her life as it is now and see if there is possibility for even greater growth. It is a work in progress.

It makes me wonder how many of us get ‘stuck’ in our healing. We are often too aware of our stuck-ness when we battle with our subconscious programming, or our old nature. But how many times does the healing become part of our subconscious programming that we find we are too scared to look behind the veil to the next place of healing.

It is a shocking reality to imagine that my healing can potentially become my prison!

The thing is, we need to keep moving, that is the evolution of the human being. Growth. I am not looking at material growth, but more growth from a spiritual and emotional perspective. I grow when I do my meditation practices, my being present practices. I grow when I am kind to myself. I grow when I look for things to be grateful for, and why I am grateful. I don’t want my mind to be trapped in this and that, I want my mind to know Love, to know freedom in this life.

Life is hard, I am under no illusions, but how I react to life makes all the difference.

If I believe in Love, I grow. I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know when the lights get turned off and darkness becomes my companion but what I know is this…

“When I run after what I think I want, my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety; if I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me, and without pain. From this I understand that what I want also wants me, is looking for me and attracting me. There is a great secret here for anyone who can grasp it.” ~~Shams-i Tabrizi

I am Loved, I am in Love, Love is in me, Love is all around me and I am safe!

79 views3 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Stephan Vosloo
Stephan Vosloo
Sep 13, 2021

Love that Joe.


Joe de Swardt
Joe de Swardt
Sep 13, 2021

Dear Tracey, thank you! I loved the story. The interdependency of the girl to her 'place', the poverty or threat of that place. The breakthrough opportunity of that place once the soil crust broke. The joy in the flourishing surround. I felt the sun come up in your narrative.

You follow the story on with this critical reflection: 'how many of us get ‘stuck’ in our healing?' This is quite profound. How many people get healed and either bend back into the story of being healed or like some of the biblical lepers, go off into the sunset without as much as a thank you.

You remind me a fresh that the objective / motive / lodestone behind our progress…

Tracey Richardson
Tracey Richardson
Sep 13, 2021
Replying to

Thank you Joe for so eloquently saying what I was trying to portray in the story.

bottom of page