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  • Writer's pictureRoi Gal-Or

Sap is rising...Happy Spring!

Updated: May 31, 2019

Upload Easter 2019

My sister and a silver birch tree once saved my life.

Ten years ago I went through a complicated heart valve surgery followed by trials of surviving which kept me bound to a hospital bed for 3 months. At a certain point during this time, things became just too tough. I was too weak, in a lot of pain, and overcome by exhaustion. I was ready to surrender. I gave up on recovering and gave up hope and my condition rapidly deteriorated. Upon hearing this news my youngest sister dashed to the airport in Israel, took a night flight and walked into my stuffy hospital room the following morning.

“Get dressed” she mischievously commanded me,

“I came to take you out of here.”

“Don’t be ridiculous” I answered, “I can’t even manage to walk to the bathroom”.

“So I will have to drag you out of here and you will have to lean on me,” she replied determined.

She was not joking. Her eyes spoke compassion, strength and the knowing (based on past experience of course) that she, as my youngest sister, could easily warp me around her little finger whenever she wants…

“Please leave me alone, I am connected to all these machines,” I pleaded in a last attempt to resist…

“I have sorted it all out,” she spoke triumphantly. “They will be clumped onto wheels! We will take you and the machines you are so attached to for a short walk outside…don’t even think of trying to argue with your little sister…!"

I knew from the start that I stood no chance against her.

Some moments later we began an excruciating step by step journey to the end of the corridor and down the elevator which seemed to take a lifetime. At the end of it, we were outside of the hospital building!

After months of being stuck inside the building, everything around me seemed fresh and new. I breathed it all in like a lifeline of oxygen. The immense blue sky above, the giant clouds changing forms, the light of the sun, the fresh cool air, the sounds of cars, people, cheerful birds’ song, green grass, plants, and trees.

We crossed the narrow hospital entrance road and walked towards a seemingly unimpressive Birch tree, shorter and thinner than the average Silver Birch. But there was something totally remarkable about coming close to this Birch. Never ever in my whole life, have I seen and experienced a tree so fully alive as this humble birch! It was pulsing and buzzing with palpable life forces that stretched far beyond its physical size. I truly SAW IT and it was absolutely magical; the experience felt so extraordinary. It was as if I had come to meet face to face with the legendary unicorn. This vibrating vibrant tree, this mighty being, revealed its true nature to me and invited me to touch its trunk. I noticed shining fresh new bark underneath the places where the tree was shedding the old dead bark-skin. “I know you are going through some really rough time”, I heard the tree say, “but let me explain what this whole story is about”, the tree whispered to me, “it’s about shedding skins, being born, dying, and being reborn – a story of TRANSFORMATION.”

I caressed the trunk of the tree and started crying.

I knew at that moment that if I was to survive this trial I will remember this tree forever. I vowed that I will never walk past a tree again calling it- just a ‘tree’ without TRULY SEEING it for the incredible being it is. My entire being was washed with a wave of deep gratitude and renewed appreciation to this ever-evolving mystery called ‘Life’. 

We stood there for a long time, and then my sister and I walked back into the same hospital building. But everything looked different and nothing was the same again.

I know now that something died in me under that tree. And at the same time, a more conscious commitment to Gratitude and a striving to truly SEE everything for its ever-renewing nature was born.  

There is a story I love about the famous Rabbi Zusya (who lived in the 18th century in Ukraine). 

When his disciples gathered around his deathbed they found rabbi Zusya deeply troubled and concerned. Surprised to find him in this terrible state of mind, they asked: “What is wrong, rabbi? You have always told us that everything that is born must also die…you have lived a saintly life as our great father Abraham…you have led us as faithfully as Moses led our people through the desert. You have nothing to fear. Why are you so troubled?”

The rabbi called on his last strength to answer them:

“My friends, I know it is my time to go, and I know that if God asked me why I did not act more like father Abraham I’ll say because I am not Abraham. If God asked me why I was not more like Moses I’ll answer: It is because I am not Moses.”  

The rabbi stopped to wipe a tear from his eye and continued:

“But I am troubled and fear that God may ask me: ‘Why did you Zusya have not lived your life and acted more like Zusya?’ If this was God’s question, then what will I say?” 

The story reminds me of an African blessing, saying:

‘When Death finds you, May it Find You Alive.’ 

How alive are you? How can you ensure you live every moment in your life to its full potential?

If you are not satisfied with your answer, the helpful news is that spring is here! Embrace another chance for a proper spring cleaning, shedding the old dead skins and casting away stories that serve you no longer.

Spring is here! Inviting us to consciously begin a new cycle of living fully with no regrets.

Spring is here! The perfect season for us to rise, more ourselves, like the phoenix bird, hatching out of the egg found in the ashes of its predecessor who died in a great show of flames. 

In this time in our world where old stories that were not built on love collapse all around us -

May we sow some good seeds with the patience of loving gardeners.

May we trust and practice resurrection.

And may we Spring upwards and forwards!

With love, 



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