The other evening, my arms warmly wrapped around a young oak in a local woodland, I was enjoying fleeting thoughts about the symbiotic relationship between trees and people, reciprocal exchanges of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and the new-ish discoveries of how trees communicate and experience sensations…when a man passed by with his dog.
“Oops, that was embarrassing, being caught tree-hugging!” I quipped.
“It’s OK – I get it,” the man replied briefly but reassuringly as he quickly carried on.
To be honest, I think many of us get it – the importance not only of our relationship with nature and the benefits of that relationship, but also of the realisation that we are part of (although also separate from) nature.
Even if we don’t all go around hugging trees as an expression of that unity.
Over the years I’ve received some heart-warming compliments for my (very) amateur nature photography on social media. One friend said, “Your pictures bring me joy.”
I guess I hope that in some way, my photos, such as the ones included here, are not simply pretty pictures – or even photos that inspire a love for nature. Although that would be enough. But also that they somehow convey something of my own – and your – relationship with nature.
One thing that I’ve learned, through meditating on creation and its Creator (and reading Richard Rohr!), is that God is not only expressed in every thing, but, being Trinity (i.e. ‘Relationship’), God is somehow even more present in the loving, reciprocal relationships between those things, between us, and in those relationships that we have with the world around us.
Rohr puts it like this:
‘When we love something, we grant it soul, we see its soul, and we let its soul touch ours. We must love something deeply to know its soul (anima). Before the resonance of love, we are largely blind to the meaning, value, and power of ordinary things to “save” us and help us live in union with the source of all being. In fact, until we can appreciate and even delight in the soul of other things, even trees and animals, we probably haven’t discovered our own souls either. Soul knows soul through love, which is why it’s the great commandment (Matthew 22:36).’
Now, to me, that sounds like a great reason to keep on tree-hugging.
(All photos mine. All taken recently except the one of my daughter with the poppies, taken in 2014. And all say something about reciprocal relationships.)