The Religion of Trees

Tree Movement by Emily Carr. Photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

In an April 22 article in the religion section of the Washington Post writer Matthew Sleeth reminds us that Friday was Arbor Day, an American holiday where people are encouraged to appreciate trees and plant trees.  Here in Canada different provinces recognize Arbor Day in a variety of ways.  The folks in Ontario sponsor an entire Arbor Week which began on Friday.  Here in Winnipeg there will be an Arbor Day celebration on June 1 in St. Vital Park.  You can learn more about that here.  

Trees by Dorothy Knowles. Photographed at the Remai Modern in Saskatoon. 

No matter when Arbor Day is celebrated the point of Sleeth’s Washington Post piece is that all people of faith, but in particular Christians, should be busy planting and protecting trees world-wide. He says trees are mentioned in the Bible more often than any other living thing.  

Olive Trees by Vincent Van Gogh. Photographed at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Revelation 22:2 suggests that the leaves of trees might bring healing to the nations of the world. Could caring for trees and our environment be a cause that unites the world?

A glass mosaic called Ash Trees in the Late Afternoon by my cousin Sharon Loeppky. Photographed at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg. 

In Genesis 21:33 Abraham plants a tree as a symbol for the signing of a peace treaty. Could reforestation projects be a way for countries to come together in peace to replenish the earth’s tree population?

Tree Children by Winnipeg artist Leo Mol. Photographed just outside the Richardson Building in downtown Winnipeg.

What a different world we might have if everyone acted like “oaks of righteousness” the way  good people are described in Isaiah 61:3.  Jesus said in the beatitudes that righteous people are gentle peacemakers. 

Root Dress by Barb Hunt. Photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

In the comments on Sleeth’s article in the Washington Post people are very derisive of any person of faith who dares to say they want to protect trees or the environment.   They claim most religious people believe their god has provided the blessings of the natural world for them to dominate and exploit. One commentator cites the way former American Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt who was given his post by Donald Trump used Bible verses to justify policies he put in place that had potentially devastating consequences for the environment.

Poplar Woods by Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald. Photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. 

And here in Canada we have little reason to be smug about the attitude of our American neighbours. Ironically on the day before Arbor Day the government of Ontario announced it will end a program that aimed to plant 50 million trees in their province. 

Metchosin by Emily Carr. Photographed at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

On the weekend just prior to Arbor Day Christians began their celebration of Easter, a time of new beginnings, new life and new hope.  Planting and caring for trees can be a way to celebrate all those things.

Other posts……….

Happy Earth Day

Imitating Emily

Two Trees

2 Comments

Filed under Art, Nature, Religion

2 responses to “The Religion of Trees

  1. The glass mosaic, Ash Trees in the Late Afternoon, is my favourite. But there’ll all quite beautiful. I love trees…almost as much as stones.

    Liked by 1 person

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