Confessions of a Pro-Life Tree HuggerOctober 31st, 2012
A week ago the sixty-foot maple tree that had towered over our house for some sixty-five plus years was taken down. I confess that my heart broke in response. This was no sapling, but a 30” in diameter colossus that had withstood innumerable winter snows and construction projects. Unfortunately old age and ants did it in. I could not watch the giant tumble.
God bless the tree! This tree had particular significance for us, as when we moved to this property over thirty years ago it was one of only four still standing. Now all but one, including the magnificent weeping willow which protected my sons’ tree house for so many years, has succumbed. Even though I have literally planted close to a thousand trees here in the intervening years, those four were very special.
I confess I have always had “a thing” for trees. My heart leaps when I see a beautiful woodland, and nothing tops a walk through a forest as the colors turn (for me possibly the best part of fall). I find trees very full of God’s grace! A tree that manages to continue to live through hail and lightening strike, air pollution and abuse by the populace, woodpeckers and squirrels – is both a thing of beauty and an inspiration to each of us. I managed to survive one very difficult winter in grad school by purposely taking strength from the locust tree outside my bedroom winter… knowing that if it could bow under the onslaught of ice and wind and snow, so too could I!
Yep, trees are good. Truly – for asGenesis says, God created the world, and it was good. The things of this earth… including of course, humanity itself, made of the earth – are good. All creation, all life proclaims the goodness of the world. Oftentimes the things of the earth do so far better and more willingly than I ever could. As Psalm 96 proclaims “All the trees of the forest rejoice before the Lord who comes!”
So, I must also confess myself to be pro-life. Pro-life yes, in the contemporary Catholic sense in which we often use it, affirming the God-given sacredness of human life, from uterus to natural death. Pro-life also, however, in the fullest sense in that ALL of life, created and given to us by God, is holy, and somehow reflects the glory of God. It is, as Catholic social teaching tells us, for this reason worthy of both our delight and our stewardship.
Although human life must take priority, as it did in that same Genesis creation story, still it wounds me to read about people who abuse and disdain the earthly goods gifted to them. I take very seriously the notion that such has been given into my care temporarily, to be passed onto those who follow.
Now I mourn and honor this late beloved maple tree, just as I mourn all those for which I have cared. Surely heaven contains a giant tree or two. I hope so. God bless the tree!