Humility: The example of trees


I make no secret of the fact that I love nature and trees. In fact, Sofia’s design stems entirely (pun intended, as always) from this concept. So! What can we learn from trees? Answer: A lot of things, including humility.

Let us take the example of trees. When they have much fruit the branches are bent downwards… The branch without fruit is raised up and grows upwards. In some kinds of trees no fruit is produced as long as the branches grow upwards but if somebody takes a stone and binds it to a branch and pulls it down, then the branch will bear fruit.

It is similar with a soul, when it humbles itself, it bears fruit and the more fruit it bears the humbler the soul becomes. 

I remember once when we were talking about humility and one of the leading lights of Gaza, heard us saying,

“The more one approaches God the more one sees himself as a sinner.”

He was surprised, and said, “How is this possible?”

Not knowing he wanted to learn the reason.

I said to him, “You who are the most important person here, how do you see yourself in this town?”

He answered me saying, “I consider myself to be great and the first in the town.”

I said to him, “How do you see yourself when you go to Caesarea?”

He replied, “There I see myself as insignificant amongst the important men of the town.”

Again, I said to him, “How do you see yourself when you go to Antioch?”

He replied, “I see myself as a peasant.”

I then said to him, “When you go to Constantinople, near the Emperor, how do you see yourself?”

“I consider myself to be a beggar,” he answered.

After all this I said to him,

“See [in the same way] this happens with the saints, the more they approach God, the more they see themselves as sinners.”

Thus, when Abraham saw the Lord he called himself “dust and ashes.”

Isaiah also said, “Woe is me for I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips.”

Likewise, Daniel when he was in the lions den, and Habakuk brought him his meal saying “Take the meal which God sent to you” he replied, “Did God remember even me?”

You see what great humility he had in his heart when he was among the lions in the den, and they did not harm him not just once but twice; he was surprised and said,

“Did God remember even me?”

Do you see the humility of the Saints, how their hearts are moved?

– Dorotheus of Gaza, Discourses and Sayings

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Jessica is an employment specialist for marginalized youth in Toronto, Canada. She enjoys teaching, traveling and observing - especially the relationship between mind and heart. Jessica also has a passion for outdoor walks, dancing, and all things offbeat and authentic. You can contact her at

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