Once upon a time, in a land not so very far from here, there lived a Great King.

    This King loved all his people and filled his Kingdom with amazing treasures for them to enjoy. Yet they lost their way in the Deserts of Duty and the Misty Mountains of Monetary Gain. Pilgrims and Merchants, Artists and Artisans, those who worked ceaselessly helping others, ordinary people and wealthy collectors grew tired on their journey through life…. Discouraged, they often lost sight of their Story and the road that would take them back to their King and the legendary Palace of Peace.

    The King decided to send out his children as Saraban, camel train leaders, to guide people back to him. With his trusted Counsellor, Ruach, and his Son, Shalom, he talked of the need for a place on the journey where the weary travellers could be refreshed.

    "They need food and water," said the Son, "that will never run out, and a symbol to guide their way."

    "They need shelter, community, and a chance to reflect," added Minister Ruach. "A place of welcome, an oasis, a Spreading Tree. When they hear the Saraban's stories of those who have gone before them, their hearts will be strengthened. Together they will find their way back here, O King."

    "But what shall we use for a tree?" asked the King. "The rose is too proud, though her beauty is great. You can't shelter close to such thorns."

    "The cedar grows tall," said Ruach, "but is much too fixed on his own success. He achieves great heights, but has no room for anyone else to shelter with him."

    Together the three ran through all the trees they knew. Yet despite their virtues and beauty, these trees lacked the necessary heart to serve…

    Suddenly the Prince gently smiled and declared: "Then I will be that tree!" Together the 3 made the plan that would seem like foolishness to the wise….

    And so it was that, alone in the desert, the Prince stretched out his arms, sunk his feet deep down into the precious earth, and thrust his arms into the heavens. As his head broke through the clouds, his arms were transformed into a mighty canopy of emerald green and golden leaves, thick with fruit and flowers. As his feet thrust down, they tapped into the River that his Father had long since known was there. At the touch of his feet, deeply rooted now in the precious land, the River gave up its waters, welling up in a crystal clear pool.

    Turning to each of his remaining children, the King gave each one the map to the Saraban Tree. Drawing strength and courage from its shade, each Prince and Princess hurried off to find some weary travellers. As they left, they could hear the wind whispering in the branches of the Tree, the first of the Saraban Stories: "Bud na bud (began the story in the tongue of one of the desert tribes), once upon a time….."