Monday, 3 January 2011

Trees for Life.

The Lake at Thorp Perrow

One of our favourite places to visit is Thorp Perrow Arboretum, near Bedale. Trees have always been significant for me. My father was a forester in Ghana and then the UK and my earliest walks were through coniferous forests over soft layers of fallen pine leaves and spagnam moss to the open mountainside where you could pick bilberries or lie in the heather, smelling the resin and listening to the trees creaking and the curlews and sky larks rising. Trees are very significant in the Bible narratives, too. You could say that the story of God's dealings with the world, the very story of salvation itself, is framed by trees. In Gensis we hear about the garden in which the Lord plants  'every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food' as well as the two trees which become central to Adam and Eve's relationship with God - the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The cross is often represented as a tree. The tree of life appears again in Revelation 22 where its leaves are 'for the healing of the nations' and its twelve fruits symbolize the passing of time. The tree straddles the river of the water of life. Such powerful, life giving images! Trees have been associated with food and refreshment, healing, wisdom, shade and fruitfulness, longevity and transformation in many cultures and none more so than the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Our walk today reminded me of the hidden potency and promise of trees. Dressed in their

Branches over ice
winter apparel, they were showing a sombre face to the world. Yet, in a few months time, they will burst forth with vibrant colours, shapes and smells bearing the promise of fruitfulness to come.

There is a charity called TREE AID that works to bring life through trees to families in rural Africa. When trees disappear because of drought or exploitation, this is usually followed by soil errosion, crop failure and the displacement of communities. TREE AID helps villagers in Mali, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia make the best use of trees to generate food, housing, fuel, medicine and income for health care and schooling. Since 1987, TREE AID has helped 300,000 people plant 6.5million trees which provide an alternative to both poverty and environmental destruction. Take one example - the fruit of the Shea Tree can be used to produce Shea butter which is used as a cooking oil, for candle making and as a water proofing wax on cloth or wood. It also has medicinal properties and can be used on burns, eczema and as a sun block. We probably know it better as Yoruba and might be aware of its usefulness in cosmetics. One tree which can bring nutrition, business and healing to a community.

Thorp Perrow 3rd January 2011

 An arboretum is a wonderful place to meditiate on the wisdom, balance and healing power which are found in the natural world and there for the use of all. All anglicans are committed to 'strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.' This is the fifth mark of mission and today was a good reminder that water and trees are two of the most important and straightforward keys to making this more than wishful thinking.  to see a film of their work in Mali.

The coldest crocodile in the northern hemisphere?

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