Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Sensing Lent 7: Tree

Tree on the banks of the Thames, Pangbourne Meadow.

The tree is a powerful symbol in Christian theology but before we had the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree on which the saviour of the world was hung, there were just trees.

There must be something intrinsic about a tree which lends itself to spiritual illustration. In the 90s we all tumbled to the fact that trees were being aimlessly felled in the rain forest and 'green' issues took off. Planting a tree is seen by religious and non religious people alike as almost an act of goodness; or of remembrance, when someone has died. 

What is it about trees? Apart from being beautiful, there's the visual symmetry and the roles of the different bits: the root which supports the trunk, the branches giving shelter and shade, and the twigs and buds producing flowers then fruit. 

And all in season. Spiritual metaphors abound. We have to be rooted and grounded in love (in God?) or we won't grow spiritually; we are pruned by extraneous stuff being laid down, sometimes through fasting and repentance; and thus we 'bear fruit' that will last - the fruit of a good life etc. It's all in John's gospel, chapter 15.

Trees are so plentiful round here it's hard to imagine the landscape without them, which leads me to today: being as it was the 20th anniversary of the ordination of women in the UK to the Anglican priesthood. 

I had coffee with a fellow female clergywoman and one who is currently in training. It wasn't till we'd ordered and taken seats in the cafe that the significance of being together on this particular day dawned on us, and I left in celebratory mood, giving thanks for the joys and the freedom to minister in this role and calling. 

Fruitful trees and fruitful ministry. A perfect day 7 of Lent.

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