At the heart of the arid Bahrain desert, there is a tree that should not exist.
Against all odds, its branches reach 32 feet into the sky and are adorned with flourishing green leaves. Given the inhospitable and desolate surroundings, with no obvious water source for miles, there is no logical explanation for its survival.
But the Tree of Life, named ‘Shajarat-al-Hayat’ in Arabic, is nothing short of thriving. Some believe the tree’s longevity was granted by the Sumerian God of water Enki. Others think Bahrain is where the Garden of Eden once stood, the tree being its only remaining relic. Scientists can only propose unproven theories, claiming the tree has 50-metre roots that sap water from whatever source they can – even if that means the salt-laden ocean.
Tens of thousands of people visit the Tree of Life every year to witness the miracle of its continued life.
For many individuals and businesses alike, the past year has brought with it more challenges than most; environmental disasters and humanitarian crises have felt incessant. It might have even felt like our survival, let alone our ability to thrive, was being threatened by unforgiving circumstances. But every day, individuals share spectacular stories: a mountaineer survived a 150-feet fall and crawled back to civilisation; a child was resuscitated after 2 hours of CPR; and as a species we’ve endured man-made wars and devastating pandemics.
We thrive despite – and often because of – adversity.
Tens of thousands of people visit the Tree of Life every year to witness the miracle of its continued life. They don’t attempt to uncover its secrets – they’re simply there to bask in its wonder. The gift of nature’s spectacle is a beacon of hope for many, especially at the approach of a new year.
“Hope just means another world might be possible, not promised, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope,” says Rebecca Solnit. The Tree of Life’s origins bear little importance to most who visit. Rather, it’s a symbol of hope: that humanity has the power to persevere, against any odds.