Pat S. Hilger’s Parables From the Tree of Life is an interesting collection of stories and photos that link spirituality and the natural world. A young woman who can’t connect with people or find solace in her family’s religion ventures into nature and listens to the wisdom of the trees and her own heart.
Parables From the Tree of Life is Hilger’s “somewhat autobiographical” story. Each chapter offers a photo of a tree, a story, and a brief dialogue between Pat and her inner wisdom (rendered in italics). For instance, a family camping trip turns grim when the family parks its camper in a space that is overwhelmed by spiders. The family kills the scary bugs, only to later find a sign had been posted warning campers away from the spot they had chosen: The spiders had been brought in intentionally for mosquito abatement. Pat’s voice talks to her about interdependence in nature (“You know that all of God’s creatures are necessary”), and her understanding grows. Other stories address themes of free will, religious tolerance, and releasing expectations for things beyond our control.
Parables is unique in its structure, and while it takes a bit of getting used to, that is ultimately a strength. Hilger takes a liberal view of spirituality that should appeal to many who don’t think of themselves as “religious” per se, and her photographs are nicely reproduced. The trees are shown adapting to adverse circumstances, which echo the human struggles described.
According to her back book cover, Hilger has suffered greatly from depression and wrote this book to inspire others facing difficult times. Indeed, this would be a thoughtful gift for anyone seeking uplift in the face of life’s challenges.
Also available as an ebook.