I got to help plant trees this week, along with a dozen kids, as I assisted Amy with her Sing the World Green camp. As I dug holes and packed soil in around plants I recalled the first poem I ever memorized. It is by Joyce Kilmer. It starts with
I think that I shall never see/ a poem as lovely as a tree… And ends with, Poems are made by fools like me/ but only god can make a tree. I can’t remember all the words in between but I know I was motivated to learn that poem because of my early love for trees- and one in particular. My grandparents had an apple orchard and in it was a tree that accommodated itself to small children by having a low branch and many high and leafy boughs. The smells of an apple orchard still remind me of childhood.
Like many, I continue to love trees. I once got a field book and tried to learn the names of all the trees in our town. I was happy when I could greet a number of them by name on my evening walks. My peach tree died this year so we planted both a peach and a cherry tree to replace it and I was reminded of all the other trees we have planted in past yards over the years. I once heard that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago — but the second best time is today. When we go on hikes my family stops to sniff the bark of Ponderosa Pines to smell the sweet scent of butterscotch. (You should try it– and maybe have some emergency butterscotch candies in your pocket in case the smell makes you crave the taste like it does me.)
Trees have always stood for such qualities as beauty, strength, rest, abundance and endurance. They have been an inspiration to many, like in the following quotes.
“Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
“A tree retains a deep serenity. What peace comes to those aware of the voice and bearing of trees!” Cedric Wright
“I want to give myself utterly as this maple that burned and burned for days without stinting (autumn) and then in two more dropped off every leaf”. Jane Hirshfield
“As early as I can remember praying was something quite different from praying in church. It was always being alone in nature, under a tree or in a tree, digging a hole, watching birds, listening to the river”. Sue Monk Kidd
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water or watching clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time”. John Lubbock
May all the trees that surround us remind us of our abundant blessings as we cool ourselves in their refreshing shade this summer.
Janen Wright. Director of Faith Formation