A few weeks ago four trees were cut down on the campus where I live, two of them in our backyard.
It’s a good thing, as a couple of them were dead and the two in our yard were leaning far more than the Tower of Pisa and towards our house. Despite assurances from more spatially astute people than I that the trees would not hit the house if they fell, now when the wind blows or the rains soak the earth I won’t worry that this will be the event that sends the trees crashing to the ground, smashing everything, including possibly our house, in their path.
At the same time, I feel rather sad. Trees are living things – part of God’s wondrous creation. And the two trees in our yard have been companions along the way. I remember my son Kai as a small boy dressed up as a wood fairy leaning against the tulip tree.
I remember the boys and their friends playing wiffle ball, home plate next to the tulip tree. The elm was half of a soccer post. The elm was also the only tree close enough to another to hang my hammock between. Few days have I been allotted to lay quietly in that hammock for a nap or to read a book, but many days did I lie there with my children giggling together, looking up at the trees and their leaves giving us protection from the sun.
The trees are gone now, just sawed off stumps where once they loomed.
I mentioned my sadness to a couple of neighbors, they shrugged their shoulders; so, I thought I’d turn to the poet Mary Oliver who seems to share my sense of the sacredness of these creations in our midst.
When I Am Among the Trees
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."
-- Pr. Dianne