The Tangerine Tree

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The Tangerine Tree

In January of 2009, I was living in a house on my friend’s property in Ko’olau, on Kauai. One day I was communicating with a tangerine tree on the property, about fifty feet from my front door. It invited me to take some of its fruit, make some fresh-squeezed juice and share it with others on the land. I went around behind the house, grabbed a bucket and came back.

The tangerines grew in bunches. As I reached up my hand for some juicy-looking ones, I could hear the voices of the tangerines, like the voices of many little children. They were all crying, “Pick me! “No, take me first!”

When I took a tangerine from one of the bunches, all the other tangerines in that bunch started to clamor that they wanted to go too – I should take the whole bunch. So I did.

This went on until I had a bucket full of tangerines. Like the oysters in the “Walrus and the Carpenter,” they didn’t seem to mind that they were going to die so I could have juice. But, unlike the oysters, that wasn’t because they didn't get it. There was something about merging their energy with me, that they saw as a very high value. This is how it is done. That was what their mother tree had taught them. So they rejoiced!

As I finished picking tangerines, I heard music coming from the tree itself, that had just given me this gift of her children. It was so clear and precise that I went straight back into the house and wrote it down, note for note. The whole outrageous event took maybe a half hour.

The next day, in reading over the sheet music and hearing it again in my mind, I heard a voice singing with the music. I wrote that melody down too, and I wrote down the words it was singing. I then took several days figuring out how to play it, but it was actually a very “guitaristic” piece, with few tricky fingerings or speed bumps.

These are the words the tangerine tree sang to me, as part of the gift she gave:

The Tangerine Tree by Dr. Matt Miller

There’s a tangerine tree on the land close to me
And its branches are laden with fruit,
Golden-orange as suns. There the heaviest ones
Hang down temptingly close to my hand.
She gives her gift straight from the root
That draws it from the patient land.
       Beneath the tang’rine tree I strolled
       At evening, and I heard her voice
       Say, “Take of my fruit and be whole,
       Take of that wholeness and rejoice.”
       Then in a bucket ‘neath the stars
       I piled her glowing cultivars.
From that surrender satisfying
We can learn the art of dying well.

From the tangerine tree on the land close to me
Spread green branches in orange fruit robed,
Like the eyes of the sun. There the most vibrant ones
Call, “Take me, take me next to the end!”
When I pick one fruit from a bunch of globes,
The rest cry, “Take us with our friend!”
       I took the living fruit in hand
       Returning to my cottage home,
       And ground it on a juicing hub
       Like that my great-grandmother owned.
       The hours went by. When my arms ached,
       My thirst the golden nectar slaked.
From that surrender satisfying
We can learn the art of dying well.

When the tangerine tree on the land close to me
Has its branches in sunlight immersed,
Then a spirit shines out from its shadowy heart,
And within a Divine secret lies.
For see the sacred Presence burst
Out from the tree before my eyes!
       I gave the living juice in jars
       To friends who lived on that same land;
       And in communion shared the drink
       Of nectar from Her generous hands.
       The tangerine tree’s sweetness flood-
       -ed through our bodies like Her Blood.
From that surrender satisfying
We can learn the art of dying well.