“The person contemplates the tree. The tree sends its roots beneath the surface, seeking nourishment in the dark soil: the rich ‘broken down’ matter of life. As they reach down and search, the roots hold the tree firmly to the earth. Thus held and nourished, the tree grows upwards into the light, drinking the sun and air and expressing its truth: its branches and foliage, its flowers and fruit. Life swarms around and into it. Birds and insects teem within its embrace, carrying pollen and seed. They nest and breed and buzz. They glorify creation. The tree changes as it grows. It is torn by wind and lightning, scarred by frost and fire. Branches die and new ones emerge. The drama of existence has its way with the tree but it still grows; still its roots reach down into the darkness; still its branches flow with sap and reach upward and outward into the world. A person kneels to contemplate a tree and to reflect upon the troubles and joys of life. The person imagines mornings and evenings in a great forest of prayers, swarming and teeming with life.
The person is learning how to pray.” (Leunig, from The Prayer Tree)
In holding Ivor Bell’s Remembering Ceremony, I have spent much time reflecting on the personal challenges we each face in life, and how we each respond to those challenges. Ivor deeply loved trees and had a passion for planting trees. And like ourselves, there lie within many levels to a tree – the hidden, private aspects of tree often deep in earth; the heights where the leaves dance with the wind; and the trunk and branches which we can see and touch. Much of a tree lies in mystery and it takes effort and time to really get to know tree. Life can be fragile and like the many trees we have lost to our winter storms, its life can be short or long.
Denmark has been touched profoundly by these storms of life and our statistics for suicide and depression here are significant. We have lost dear members and there are others who face daily those deep waters of depression and pain. With this Spring it is timely for us as a community to ask the deeper questions of how to sustain our trees and our lives. Planting trees for our environments is vital, and equally nurturing our inner trees is imperative. Let us do both.