Well, 10 years is just a blip to a tree like this. It’s at least 100 years old,” said the arborist.
With that comment, my concerns—over having too-long delayed caring for the tree, not getting much natural light inside the house, moss growing on the roof, the large branches that periodically broke off—suddenly seemed rather insignificant.
“We can help the tree: cutting some dead branches or the lower, small ones so the tree will direct its growth to the bigger branches. We could even brace it if you’re worried about a main limb falling, but trees have a remarkable natural sway to protect themselves. Actually, architects model building sway off how trees respond to wind.”
Ten years prior, this large, beautiful tree was part of the reason we chose this house. But somehow, in the following years, it became the tree whose leaves we constantly rake (or lament not having the time to rake), whose roots we trip over, whose abundant canopy is causing a leaky, greenish roof, whose branches I worry will crush the house and us in it. It is the tree that the roofer frowned at and said, “That’s your real problem.”
Then the arborist’s reverent description of this tree—how it continually adjusts root and leaf growth to keep itself healthy—restored my awe for the tree, and gave me a healthy dose of perspective on my place in the world and what I was prioritizing. That tree doesn’t need me to care for it. The tree is as a tree should be, and asks nothing from the occupants of the little house underneath its canopy. The tree is not a problem to solve but a wonder to behold, respect and make room for.
And about that reframed perspective on my place in the world: we own our home and (with a few months’ planning) can pay a tree service. I am privileged. That privilege means that I have more choice, more power than many. So when I have a choice, I should be mindful of others.
The arborist said he thought our tree could live another 100 years “in the right conditions.” He was relieved we didn’t want to get rid of the tree, and lamented the shrinking tree canopy in our city and how fewer trees means higher temperatures, more polluted air alert days, and increased health problems like asthma. My “tree problem,” indeed.
Now this is a long way to say we're all interconnected. The authors in this issue delve boldly and lovingly into what it means to be a part of God’s creation, one part with responsibility to care for the whole. They call our attention to marginalized people, to the plants, animals and life who aren’t heard or can’t advocate for themselves. As we anticipate and celebrate Jesus’ birth, may we thank God for the gift of Jesus by honoring the world that Jesus came to save. This world. A world of bumblebees and leafy, old trees.
As the psalmist said, “O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
The earth is full of your creatures . . .” (Ps. 104:24).
Horizons is the magazine of Presbyterian Women. It is planned and designed for individuals and PW circles, newcomers and longtime participants in the organization. You'll notice resources are scattered throughout the magazine—in sidebars, boxes and sometimes entire articles—because Presbyterian Women is made up of leaders, both current leaders and women with leadership potential. Participants in Presbyterian Women are also active—in their congregation, community and world—so we work to include ways you can respond to what you read in Horizons.
Forgiven and freed by God in Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit we commit ourselves:
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