In An Economy of Extraction, Plant Trees | Sojourners

The Climate Stewardship Act would legislate the planting of over 4 billion trees by 2030.

“…And the leaves of the tree of life will be for the healing of the nations.” -Revelation 22:2

This week, I willed myself to slow down and revel at how much trees have to offer us — by way of teaching and giving, and by way of just existing.

Perhaps many of us grew up knowing and loving one certain tree. For me, it was the soft red maple right on my neighborhood block. Its trunk was the back I leaned on for comfort. I memorized the particular tangle of its branches after countless scrambles upwards to earn entire afternoons tucked deep in its shade. As I grew, it grew with me.

In my college years, while taking courses in environmental science and attending campus fellowship, I started to meditate on the lessons that trees embodied for us as people of faith: what it meant to be firmly rooted in grace, where I could find solid ground in a time of tumult, and how God would cultivate the courage in me to branch out vocationally. Even now, in my pursuit of contemplative activism, I use the image of the grandfather oak as a reminder to stay physically grounded, feeling the weight of both feet planted on the ground while leaning into the spirit. I am trying to feel at home in my own body even as I engage with others in movement building.

It is critical, I think, to embody the shalom that we wish to bring about in ministry. In fact, even in scripture, trees are the single thing mentioned the most, second only to people. In his new book, Reforesting Faith, Matthew Sleeth points out that a tree appears on the first page of Genesis, in the first Psalm, on the first page of the New Testament, and on the last page of Revelation. Throughout scripture, the appearance of trees is shot through with historical, symbolic, and spiritual significance. 

Ecologically-speaking, trees gift to us an immeasurable abundance of ecosystem services. The presence of trees is a strong indicator of a communitys ecological health. Old-growth forests provide habitats for many species, preserving in both species richness and biodiversity. Urban trees offer much-needed and often life-saving shade in an era of intensifying heat waves worldwide due to climate change. Trees, in their various genera, families, and shapes, provide texture and color to our urban world. And the act of planting trees — massive and ambitious reforestation efforts — is a vital piece to addressing the climate crisis with the full force and attention that it requires of us. Trees, once planted, actively take in carbon dioxide, and then exhale oxygen, literally giving life.

Read more: In An Economy of Extraction, Plant Trees | Sojourners

One comment

  1. Trees truly are a gift to the world!
    Why anyone would want to cut down a tree is baffling to me but I saw a neighbor cut down the most beautiful, massive tree over the summer and I actually cried!

    Liked by 1 person

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