Reflection on the Sycamore Tree

Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because Jesus was going to pass that way. Luke 19:3-4

This year I come to the story
from the sycamore’s
point of view —
how it must have been for that
traditional wayside tree,
tall and with leaves like hearts,
and figs near the trunk.

The tree had seen many passing
on the road through Jericho –
the soldiers of Rome
and pilgrims for the festivals,

the rich and the poor,
those who preyed on the poor —
tax collectors and robbers,
priests, and levites,
and a few who cared
for the wounded and the lost —
some Good Samaritans,
also Jesus
and those who tried to follow.

The tree had waited long
to be itself a point of view —
somewhere a person could climb
to see hope walk by,
a fork of wood and bark
high enough out of the crowd
to see and be seen,
to be called and accepted,
and then to tumble down,
and land in a new life.

It never matters to a sycamore
that it is not invited to the party,
paid back for its gifts,
admired for its deep roots,
sweet fruit,
and wide safe branches.

It’s just being a tree.

Of course, I’ve known saints like that
whose lives are hand holds
for the lifting up
of those who are short
of something on their roads,
and cannot catch a glimpse
of what they desperately need.

Sycamore trees have twisted limbs
and are known
to take many shapes –

some look like therapists,
an officer with Narcan,
a Facebook friend, a teacher,
a bartender or a sponsor,
a neighbor,
maybe people from a church,
or people who’ve never
been inside one.

They’ve all got roots,
wide and inviting branches,
and they never insist on being
when I tell the story.

By Bernard Gagnon - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Bernard Gagnon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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6 Responses to Reflection on the Sycamore Tree

  1. Maren says:

    Definitely in your end of things!

  2. Cheryl Hoffman says:

    Love this one, Maren. Thank you.

    Cheryl Hoffman Centered Riding Instructor Level II 200 Hour Yoga Instructor, Ashtanga website:

  3. Maren says:

    I did resist quoting Isaiah, “The trees of the fields will clap their hands!”

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