Friday, May 29th
Large tree in Mountstewart Gardens, Ulster.
I love trees. Just recently, we have been exercising in Wheata Woods on the northern edge of Sheffield in an evening. There are sweet chestnut trees that would win the Carbuncle Prize if it wasn't given to architectural oddities. This Spring, the blossom on cherries, apples, and many others has been glorious. I love to feel the bark on some species and the leaves on the maples are so beautiful and intricate. Autumn will bring another colour spectacular as the leaves turn gold and red before they fall.
Apparently the oldest living tree at the moment is a conifer in the USA called Methuselah. It is nearly 5,000 years old. There is a yew tree in Scotland which is about 2.000 years old and there are oaks which were here before the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Greenbelt, a Christian Arts and Music festival is held in the landscaped grounds of Boughton House, near Kettering. I often look at the ancient trees in such parklands and wonder about the people who planted them. Most of them would not have seen those trees in their full maturity and glory. They were, in effect, planting them for future generations.
Today, we are promoting schemes to plant new woodland for future generations and for the sake of the climate. While Brazil and other countries are clearing so much valuable forest and habitat, there is an urgent need to think beyond our own generations and plant for the planet and the future. We owe it to our grandchildren and their grandchildren to think beyond ourselves and fight for a legacy for them which is worth inheriting. It is one reason why I, personally, think that Brexit is a backward step in building a better future - not just for Britain, but for the world. If we are going to halt climate change, we are more likely to achieve it through cooperation than through competition. Interdependence not independence.
At the moment much of our focus is on the elderly and vulnerable in this pandemic. We are rightly concerned about our Care Homes and the mortality rate. But whilst we need to ensure a better funding for that important sector, we also need to look at the unseen effects on our young people, their mental well-being as well as their future quality of life. It seems a shame to me that the older members of society had such a major say in recent referenda and elections. We have set a path which appears not to be in the best interests of future generations. I hope I'm wrong.
Western Christianity has always had an emphasis on individual salvation, unlike cultures further South and East. Somehow, there needs to be a shift towards communal salvation. We can do this if we believe that we are in this together and can only make life worth living on this planet through collective effort and corporate sacrifice. We cannot have a better and holistic health service without realistic taxation, we cannot save the planet without putting ecology before economics, and we cannot embrace the sick and the suffering of this world without a vision like the one that sent Christ to his Cross.
Plant for the future, today. Sounds a bit like a Boris slogan! The reality is, the seeds for the future are in our hands. Will we store them away in a seed bank or sow them now to realise a dream for others to enjoy?
You bring me a doll
And tell me to point to where it hurts.
I tell you
I need an Atlas,
Bring me a globe.
I place my fingertip
On the northernmost point
And let it spin before me
As grand mountains
And dying oceans
And pillaged forests
Pass before my eyes,
And wonder how
I would rearrange it
If the world was a just a small sphere
In my hand.
I’d fill in
The disappearing coral reef
With the colours the world
Is so ready to forget.
I’d dip both hands
Into the oceans of time
And carry back home
The extinct species to the seas.
I’d take the water from
The melting ice-caps in buckets
To the barren deserts,
Move the unsung clouds
From our grey skies
To the drought stricken lands
And fill the hands
Of farmers extended in prayer
With the rain
We so readily complain about.
I’d move the bulldozers
Out of the rainforests
So that the trees will not be disturbed
In their prostration to their lord
And take them instead
To the separation wall in the West Bank.
I’d bring water colours,
The calmest blue,
The brightest yellow
To paint over the black clouds of pollution
In eternal darkness,
Hanging over factories
Where little hands
Stitch their childhood
Into the hem of our skirts, Watching their lives pass by
In the reflection
In the small intricate mirror work
On our dresses.
When I have finished,
I’ll run my fingers along the borders,
Erase the sketch marks of the colonisers
Until the globe is no longer a map,
Until the word ‘map’
Is erased from history
And the Earth returns
To just being God’s canvas
Ready to be adorned
By tomorrow’s hands.
Zena Kazeme (fromLittle Spaces of Hope, a sampler from Amos Trust of Spaces of Hope)
Mother, Father God,
Save this planet from our selfish exploitation of its riches.
Save the refugees from our indifference to their plight.
Save the suffering from our desire to make profit from drugs that would heal.
Save the young from our shortsightedness.
Save us, for Jesus' sake,
Burrs on a Sweet Chestnut - Wheata Woods, Grenoside
2 year-old Sweet Chestnut and Oak saplings from Ecclesall Woods and Thetford Chase in our forest nursery!