My ultimate inspiration for writing A Higher Branch came from my childhood experiences growing up on my grandmother’s farm in Lebanon. I loved to climb trees as a boy and was often found wandering the meadow climbing fig and olive trees. I also loved to explore the branches of one particular mulberry tree that grew at the front of her cottage.
I had a strong urge to climb as a boy. It gave me a sense of purpose, achievement, strength and freedom. From these feelings, I developed a confidence and belief in my abilities to do just about anything I wanted to in life. When I was not climbing trees, I would spend my time following my grandmother around the farm watching her tend to her vegetable garden or baking mountain bread. I was a very curious child with many questions about life, love, people, the world we lived in and what I wanted to be when I grew up.
My grandmother, Rose, satisfied this curiosity by telling me stories of what my life will be like when I grew into a man. She would relate to me the challenges that I would face along the way and she identified the lessons that I must learn to live a complete and happy life. She would do this by telling me stories about my grandfather, who died before I was born. (The word grandfather translates as “Jido” in Arabic). Her tales always started with the words, “Your Jido would say…”. I guess she loved him immensely and kept him alive in her heart through the stories; I too loved him through the stories. (In my adulthood, I learned that he loved to read the writings of Kahlil Gibran).
My day-to-day inspiration for writing the book came from going for long walks at sunrise and looking up at the beauty in trees. Looking at them often brought back memories of my grandmother’s wonderful stories.