The Joy of Trees

Out of the ground the Lord God made grow every tree that was delightful to look at and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

Take some time and go to a place with some trees: a park, a forest preserve, maybe even your back yard. Notice the green things around you. In particular, find a tree and sit next to it.

Consider the life of this tree. Think of how it grew from a tiny seed, fed only with water and light.

Consider how it has endured the world. Imagine all the summer droughts it survived and torrential storms it withstood. Imagine all the harsh winters it recovered from, budding every spring, year after year.

Consider how much change it as seen, think about how many people sat under its branches. Think about all the birds who have made their nests in this tree at on time or another or how many creatures were nourished by its fruit.


The world breaks a little bit every time we cut down a tree.
— Hope Jehren

Consider the deep and fundamental otherness of the tree. What meaning does this otherness have for you? At the same time, consider how you and the tree breath together. Finally, consider how much easier it is to cut down a tree than it is to grow one.


What value do you place on this tree? What does this tell you about your relationship with the environment, with other people, with God? How does God delight in looking at this tree?

Sit in silence for a few moments with the tree. If any thoughts or feelings distract you, acknowledge them and let them drift away.

As you prepare to end this meditation, ask yourself, "How does this make me a more loving and compassionate person toward myself, toward others, and even toward trees?"

Close with the following prayer or one of your own choosing:

Praised be to you, my Lord, through Brother Tree,
who, like you, provides so much beauty
and offers so much delight. Amen.