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January 16, 2022: Trees and God

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying God. It “consents,” so to speak, to God’s creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.
— Thomas Merton

Now according to Thomas Merton, trees “give glory to God,” “express [to God] an idea,” and “imitates God” by being a tree. The problem that I have with this quote is that it sounds like trees, being trees, are subservient to God. Now some

Peach trees blooming in the high tunnel

might look at a tree and “see” God, say perhaps as a face in the bark, as a figure in the branches, or in the tree’s entirety. Or they might, as I have, feel God’s presence in the tree.

A tree should not have to be subservient to a higher power. It should exist as is, and be respected as being what it is, a tree, a living being that takes in water and nutrients, and makes leaves. Trees also house animal life of all kinds, insects and bird life included. Trees take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Trees also rustle in the wind.

Every year I have a favorite type of tree. This year, 2022, is going to be the year of the Cottonwood. I am going to learn as much about this type of tree as I can.

Now, could it be the opposite of what Merton says, that is: God gives glory to tree by being a God. They (God is trans) “consent,” so to speak, to tree’s creative love. They is expressing an idea, which is in tree and is not distinct from the essence of tree, and therefore a God imitates a tree by being a God.”

In Merton’s words, love the tree, which is God. In Alys’s words, love the God, which is tree. We can see the tree, we cannot see God, which makes my quote nearly nonsensical. I feel in writing this like I am digging a huge hole and hoping the sides don’t collapse. This is what we mean by being “holy.”

What brought this to mind? This afternoon I went to a gathering at a house in the woods – the house and inhabitants made me feel as though I had entered a vast fairyland. Those who attended this event were all naturalist/environmentalist/artist types. I felt quite at home amongst them.

It was the outside, which was the most captivating. Outside, the landscape consisted exclusively of birch trees, although a spruce may have been tucked away in there somewhere. Most certainly, the trees (as were the party attendees) were celebrating the fact that the winds had died down and that right now, it was not too cold.

We all had stories to tell, as did the trees. If we’d gone skiing, we would have heard their stories.

I have not spent much time in the woods lately. I am feeling the need to do more of this.

Next: 17. 1/17/22: Dog Help Us

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