A World of Trees

“Trees have long been trying to reach us. But they speak on frequencies too low for people to hear.”

“This is not our world with trees in it. It's a world of trees, where humans have just arrived.”

– Richard Powers
The Overstory (book discussion led by CJT on Tuesday, October 26, at 7 pm)

It’s that time of year… time for Tree of the Day!

Kathy Slade introduced me to the idea of looking around for a “Tree of the Day” during the fall season, when the trees lose their chlorophyll and begin to show their true colors right before they let go and head into a season of slumber. The idea is that as you go about your business, you pay attention to the trees… (How could one not? But we mean REALLY pay attention!) If one tree just smacks you upside the head with its colors popping against the sky, then you bequeath that tree the title “Tree of the Day” and honor its life, give thanks for its beauty, do a little happy dance or whatever you want to do to celebrate its glory.

This is a little religious naturalist/pagan/earth-centered spiritual practice designed for the early spring and fall in New England. Note: If, like me, you can’t stand choosing just one sometimes, that’s OK. The trees are honestly not in competition with one other but urging each other along.

In The Overstory, Richard Powers writes, “We found that trees could communicate, over the air and through their roots… We found that trees take care of each other… seeds remember the seasons of their childhood and set buds accordingly… trees sense the presence of other nearby life… a tree learns to save water… trees feed their young and synchronize their masts and bank resources and warn kin and send out signals to wasps to come and save them from attacks… A forest knows things. They wire themselves up underground… Link enough trees together, and a forest grows aware.”

Can a congregation be like a forest? Communicating in subtle ways, supporting each other, “feeding” our young, knowing things and growing aware- as a whole? I believe so. And I am grateful that we are slowly beginning to gather again in the Meeting House, where much of that happens in quiet and wonderful ways. Our forest is re-growing.

Richard Powers writes, “There are a hundred thousand species of love, separately invented, each more ingenious than the last, and every one of them keeps making things.” Trees all around us are eating sunlight, making the air, creating beauty, feeding and housing creatures, and preparing the ground for the decomposers to do their thing. (Another shout out to Kathy Slade who will be talking about this with the kids this Sunday.) There is so much to love in this world, so much to preserve and share with those coming up after us.

Yours, shouting “Glory!” to the trees,
Rev. Lee