When Betrayal Makes Sense

When Betrayal Makes Sense.

 When I was a young woman, a divorced mother of two, working as a waitress I became obsessed by a window hanging in a local store. This cluster of grapes was fashioned out of thick, uneven hunks of stained glass that the artist had retrieved from bombed cathedrals in Europe. The grapes shimmered – ecclesiastical purple with limed green leaves. Although I could hardly afford to, I paid an outrageous $50.00 for this piece and hung it above my bedroom window. I never regretted the choice. Whenever I looked at the stained glass, I had the strange sense that there was a message hidden there. I ignored it. 

After my brother’s death two years later (my youngest son was two) I lost most of myself, but held on to my love for plants tending to them with deep affection and attention. 

My first word was ‘fower’ for flower so my relationship with plants stretched back to babyhood. I believed the flowers plants and trees that lived around my grandmother’s house were my close friends.

 I began to wonder – were those grapes an image for my love of all plants?

Although I was socialized into Christianity I lost my tenuous connection to that religion in my twenties because it discounted nature as divinity, and it was in nature that I felt closest to Something I couldn’t define. 

I reconnected briefly at mid life when my children left home. During this second time around with Christianity I became friends with an Episcopalian priest who was a nature mystic. He sent me on my way, when he too, chose nature and left the church assuring me that I was in good hands…When he died, John became a bear.

I was left in liminal space. Now when I looked at the grapes that still hung in my window I thought about Jesus. I remembered words about his being the vine, and something about fruit. Christianity might be dead, but Jesus seemed to live on in me in some peculiar way. Long ago I had acknowledged this figure as radical teacher who loved women and nature. He was a man betrayed by men who died a horrible death. When I read Elaine Pagel’s, the Gospel of Thomas the words of Jesus came to life with an authenticity that seemed to be missing in the Bible. “He who is close to me is close to the fire”. I was finally convinced. This piece of stained – glass was a vegetative aspect of Jesus.

 Soon after I moved to the mountains. Forests of fragrant evergreens  embraced me. I wandered through tall pines spruce and fir feeling a sense of deep peace. I befriended all trees, and every animal that chose me. First it was the chickadees who lived in the pines…then doves and cardinals. I raised frogs each spring. I hadn’t been this happy since before my brother died… Deer, fox, coyote, porcupines, rabbits and bears were always around; the naturalist blossomed. I was becoming who I was meant to be. I forgot about Jesus. The trees became my Cathedral. When the logging machine began to strip the mountains of trees I was devastated.  

A year or two after moving I had a strange dream. In it I was a trailing emerald green vine that snaked along the ground. In addition to the green I was also deep purple. The startling sense of being that vine stayed with me. The luminescent colors reminded me of my grapes. 

When I met my first passionflower I was stunned by the astonishing deep violet blue crowns, the fragrance of these flowers, their deep green leaves. I began to root cuttings for myself and others. When I learned that this flower was associated with the crucifixion of Jesus, I felt uneasy, almost revolted. (I most definitely did not want to be identified with betrayal and crucifixion).

 I was not yet conscious of the extent of betrayal that had permeated my life.  Instead, I blamed myself. I also started to hate Jesus believing that somehow I had gotten stuck to him and his crucifixion. I began to dread spring because the six – week period that led up to Jesus’s final  betrayals and death was a time when personal betrayals occurred for me with frightening cyclic regularity.

Twenty plus years passed before I finally wove my love and relationship to plants, the stained glass grapes, the vine that was me, trees, and the passionflowers into one cogent picture. Each of these images was showing me something I did not want to see. The plants spoke, not once, but again and again until I finally got the message… The same pattern of betrayal that dominated Jesus’s life also ruled mine. The grief and compassion I once felt over Jesus’s life and death returned, but this time I grieved primarily for me. The plants had led me home.


Both Mythic and intergenerational family patterns live us whether we choose them or not. What’s important is to uncover the stories being told and come to terms with them even when they hurt.It’s probably not surprising to the reader that plants do speak to me on a regular basis – not through words, but through the truth of my body.

2 thoughts on “When Betrayal Makes Sense

  1. I have a passion fruit tree which has grown across the net in my balcony, and this month, the bulbul aka the passerine song bird has given birth to 3 babies in the nest. Each tree has its importance when it comes to life…

    Liked by 1 person

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