Along the route I walk in the mornings are some small trees, part of the landscaping at an office park near my house. Three years ago, I watched as two trees planted there fell ill and died. They were replaced, and because all the other trees had several years’ growth on these two “newbies,” I grew interested in watching to see if they would catch up with the others.
I silently cheered them on, regularly encouraging them to grow as I walked by them. When winter came and their branches were bare, I waited for spring to see if they had survived. I was happy to see their new leaves and to watch them live through hot, dry stretches of summertime. They are now well-established, but I still keep an eye out for them, to see how they are progressing.
Going through a disorienting season of life, my morning walks have been a time for me to sort through the myriad of emotions, events and questions that arise in me. I take to heart Augustine’s quote that “it is solved by walking.” I sometimes get so lost in my thoughts that I forget to check on my two tree buddies.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was walking and thinking, I had this strong sense of companionship, of others being present with me. No people were around and I realized what I sensed was the presence of the trees, encouraging me as I had encouraged them. It seemed to me that they were praying for me.
Because God created those trees, as well as me, we are bound together as creatures, alive an indwelt with the presence of God. We embody God differently, but the Creator’s mark is on and in us all. So should it be so far-fetched to sense the trees praying for me?
Shortly after I had this experience, I discovered this poem by Rabindranath Tagore in a daily email I get from Father Richard Rohr, which assured me that what I experienced was not so improbable:
Silence my soul, these trees are prayers.
I asked the tree, "Tell me about God";
then it blossomed.
then it blossomed.