We dedicated a beautiful tree in the yard of Church of the Good Shepherd on Saturday. The tree, a “Valley Forge” Elm, honors Janet Bunbury, who in her long life has tirelessly advocated for trees, community gardens, and environmental protection. It was a beautiful gathering for a beautiful reason.
I was asked to offer a blessing, which I am posting here, in honor of Janet Bunbury, and all those who plant, water, sow, and educate for a verdant future.
The Story of the Planter: While walking along a road, a sage saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked him: “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?” “Seventy years,” replied the man. The sage then asked: “Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?” The man answered: “I found a fruitful world, because my ancestors planted it for me. Likewise I am planting for my children.” (Babylonian Talmud Ta’anit 23a)
We, who have eaten the fruit of trees planted long before we came into this world, we who have been given so much — such richness of natural beauty and abundance, stand on this good earth in this good place set aside at this good time, and ask a blessing on this tree.
May its roots burrow deeply into the soil below us — soil generated by the life that came before us — a sign of our dependence on a long line of ancestors, human, animal, insect and flora.
May its trunk grow strong and beautifully wide, a sign of the strength that comes from commitment to place.
May its branches dance in the wind and stretch joyfully — a sign to children of all ages of the playfulness and thankfulness to which we are all invited in all seasons of life.
May birds grace its branches and insects scurry along its limbs and all manner of life rejoice in its presence — a sign of the great and holy give and take, the divine ecological economy so extraordinary and so fragile in our age.
May its leaves play a symphony of color each year as the seasons follow one another, year after year after year after many, many years.