Thursday, November 9, 2023


The below "vision" is part of a talk given in a recent Sacrament Meeting in Holladay, Utah that my family attended. The speaker is a good friend of mine and gave me permission to post it. His name appears at the end of the excerpt from his talk. 

The hill and the tree

I’d like us to have a vision together. 

Please picture this in your mind as vividly as you can while I describe it. Imagine a tall and barren hill rising out of a desolate plain. Maybe it was once green and alive, but it has been wasted. Scorched by the sun, blasted by the wind, every living thing now avoids it. Walking to the top of the hill, you can see the lifeless sun-baked land stretching in every direction. Standing at the top you find the stump of a tree, already ancient when it was cut down many years ago. On the flat top of the weathered stump you see thousands of tightly packed rings.

Something draws your eye down to the roots: you see a tiny sprout beginning to shoot out, growing upward, unfolding its first deep green leaves in the sun. The stem continues climbing, knee high, waist high, now overhead. It doesn’t pause as it begins to set branches, which stretch out in broad tracery, budding, blossoming, and finally bursting with leaves. As the branches rise overhead it casts a pleasant dappled shade, cooler and more comfortable than in the full sun.

You feel the ground tremble under your feet and look down. You see that as the shoot has grown into a new tree, its roots have bored deeply down into the ground; and where they cracked the stone under the hill you see water rise and overflow, pouring out from under the thick roots. You touch the water. It is cool, and crystal clear, alive in the play of sunlight. You bring a cupped hand to your mouth and drink. It is sweet, and your thirst is gone. As you watch, the water continues to bubble up, flowing away from the tree in four streams to the north, east, south, and west. At first each stream disappears quickly into the empty soil, but as more water flows the stream extends further and further down the hill.

Now looking at the edge of the stream, you see tiny delicate blades of grass spring up. A carpet of green spreads across the hill as the water fills the soil, and amidst the growing grass you see bursts of color as penstemon, paintbrush, poppy, monkshood, goldenrod, and yarrow explode with an array of other wildflowers. As the water pools here and there on its winding course you hear the first croak of frogs, the splash of jumping fish, and the songs of birds.

When the water reaches the plain below you see that it carries with it this explosion of life, the grass and flowers dancing in the breeze. Here and there in the new grasslands the seeds of ancient trees awaken and take root, bringing stands of forest out of the prairie. Between the trunks you catch a glimpse of a doe with her fawn jumping lightly on mossy soil. All around you is a symphony of life.

You turn back to the tree in wonder at its power of resurrection and see that while the blossoms fall in snowy spirals there are radiant fruits growing. Each one seems to catch the white sunlight and glows as the branches grow heavy and bow. You reach up as a branch seems to reach down to you; you pick the fruit and eat, and you are filled, and you are alive.

Holiness, wholeness, and healing

That is a vision of healing, and of things becoming whole again. And there is an interesting secret buried in those words. The words “heal” and “whole” come from the same ancient root heilig. That same root gives us our word “holy.” That which is healed and made whole is also made holy. To make something holy is to set it in its proper order, devoted to its highest purpose, to make it most enduringly and intensely real and alive.

…[This vision] is many things, but one of those things is a vision of what you are called to become through the grace of Christ. If you receive God’s baptism of fire you will then have a well of living water flowing out from your belly, making your life holy, a living sacrifice, a sacred garden in a world of stone. What could you possibly spend your life doing that is more meaningful than that?

10.15.2023 The Sacrifice of all Things: Making a Sacred Life | Bob Sonntag