Tree soul

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.

The scene of the crime: where I was caught tree-hugging (pic taken the same evening)

“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.

Wild rose

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.”

Brown argus
Brown Argus

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.

Iron Prom
Iron Prominent moth on my hand

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.

Tortoiseshell on mallow
Small Tortoiseshell and mallow

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).

Hannah poppies

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.)


Weed or Wildflower?

When I was a child, my Dad would spend precious time spreading weedkiller over our expansive garden, in a bid to rid his nice, neat lawn of daisies. I never understood it. To me, the daisies enhanced the green grass. Wildness was my way, nature my delight, from early on.

The old saying – one man’s weed is another man’s wildflower – is so true.

Here’s an oft-overlooked weed or wildflower: Ribwort Plantain:

…which, to me, is looking pretty amazing just now – in the same area as the Campion that I photographed on the edge of Summerfields Woods a few weeks ago (see Champion Campion).

Like the Campion, taking a few pics was irresistible.

My Dad and I didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things for a long time. But the Source of Life, the giver of grass and weeds (or wildflowers) is also the Instigator of Reconciliation.

The Spirit has a way of bringing about profound change in our lives, and the relationship between my Dad and me was miraculously and permanently restored, as you can read about in my autobiographical book on physical, psychological and spiritual homelessness: Coming Home for Good.

Love – the kind that comes from above – transcends not only differences of opinion on flowers, but also personalities, cultures, races, worldviews and, yes, even religion.

Love accepts. Love shatters walls and opens arms.