What the Tree Knew | Patricia Furstenberg

The tree who knew that a church would one day stand on this piece of land, where his roots kissed the earth, that tree stood tall and grew just about here, where the church tower now rises, legend says.

When Iliora was born, the tree was as tall as a sapling. Still wrestling the summer storms. When Iliora started growing taller the tree, challenged, shot up and his branches nearly touched the sky. It certainly looked that way whenever Iliora lay under his green shade. Whenever Iliora climbed to its top branch on which she nestled, safe, her eyes cast far away. The world certainly looked grand from up here. And it was hers. The tree had gifted it to her.

But when Iliora married and moved over the hill and built a home, the tree grew taller so he could keep an eye on our girl, how the people of his hamlet called her.

Then one day…he’d nearly cut him down, Iliora’s husband, for they needed wood, good wood. But Iliora stopped him, grabbed his wrist so the shiny ax blade danced through the air, and sliced a strand of her long hair…A cloud moved over the sun and shadowed his brow. So they built their home underneath a rock instead. And a cosy place it was. And happy, unlike any other dwelling the villagers had ever seen. So they called it Chilioara, Iliora’s cave.

Soon more families settled there. And soon a church was needed.

Iliora was not around anymore to protect her tree. Other men, younger, cut it down, carried it on their strong backs over the hill, shaped it into planks, and used the planks here and there, where it was needed, for the altar, for the door frame, for the roof, and one plank even made it into the tower. A small tower, for it was a tiny wooden church. Chilioara’s church.

Now blessed with a church the community grew. And it grew. Eventually a bigger church was needed, a stone church built.

Many moons later, perhaps by the way the trees grew and the wind blew, or by the way the stars dripped across the heavens, another girl spotted her future on the other side of a hill. Where greener pasture grew, and an azure sky. And she moved, then he moved. They built, they lived, they grew another family together, happy ’til the day a church was needed. For there was space, just right. There in the clearing, see?

The tiny wooden church from Chilioara was brought over the hill to Doba, piece by piece on the men’s strong backs. And rebuilt here: the altar, the door frame, the roof, the tower…

Legend says that the tree had known. He’d known from the beginning that one day a church would stand in its place.

©2023 Patricia Furstenberg
All rights reserved

Patricia Furstenberg…

…is a novelist and poet with a degree in Dentistry. She is the author of 18 books including Dreamland: Banat, Crişana, Maramureş, Transylvania, 100-Word Stories; Transylvania’s History A to Z; Silent Heroes—chosen “One of the Five Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime”; and Joyful Trouble—an Amazon Bestseller. Patricia Furstenberg’s writing focuses on people, on how history surprised them, and on the footprints they left, memories that should not be forgotten.



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