Plant Life!

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

And watch

As grand mountains

And dying oceans

And pillaged forests

And lifetimes

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

Shrouding continents

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!

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