“Let the Trees of the Forest Exult”

These days I’m reading “The Hidden Life Of Trees, Peter Wolhleben, Vancouver,Ca 2016”. Wolhleben began his career as a forester working for a German commercial firm harvesting lumber. Then he switched over to managing a natural forest in Germany and his whole approach to trees changed. 

He began seeing trees, not from a human perspective — dollars and cents or how they fit around your homes or on your street—but from their place in the forest before we humans decided what they’re good for.

He finds that trees communicate with one another, among other things. They have a language all their own.They struggle and strategize and unite to form a glorious whole. They’re parents helping their kids and kids helping their parents, well trees help the sick. They acknowledge the universe of air, water, and soil. 

We humans can learn from them. Just go out your back door and see, Wolhleben says. 

I went out the back door at my sister’s house today and saw, as I sat reading in her backyard, things I never did before. The property line marking her land from her neighbor’s is lined with trees, mostly swamp oak, maple and holly, old and young, closely growing together. Never thought of them before as parents and children, connected at their roots, growing together. They’re better off together, Wolhleben says, families and neighbors, rather than growing in isolation.

A stream runs through her yard and she’s left wild bushes grow along the banks. They won’t get a beauty prize, but I think they may attract a wider  variety of pollinators and maybe be a better buffer for the occasional floods from the stream than her neighbors’ well-tended lawns might be. 

While I was reading a little leaf drifted down from a tree, bright orange-red instead of dark green. Wolhleben says that deciduous trees react differently to the coming fall. Some hold on to their green hoping to draw in more water before the cold, others shed their leaves sooner, more cautious of the turning season.

I acknowledged a cautious visitor.You never know.

The Book of Psalms has an abundance of references to trees. Before Mr. Wolhleben the ancients learned from them. I’m thinking now it’s our turn. We have to think differently about nature than we do.

6 thoughts on ““Let the Trees of the Forest Exult”

  1. fdan

    Dear Father Victor, thank you for your reflection. Thank you also for your reference to the abundant mention of trees in the Psalms. I plan to plant myself in them and look for those mentions. A look outside and I see: The trees teach us how to be in the Lord and how to let the Lord work in them. We should also learn from the tree vine and tree branch. Even nature knows to stay close to the Vine. Thank you, Father Victor, for always helping us learn and grow and begin afresh.

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  2. fdan

    BTW, Father Victor, I just read the preview of “The hidden life of trees,” and it is an amazing book. It is a textbook that reads like a romance novel, but the reality of which has become a horror story. I had no idea that trees were so critical to our physical world, as well as our physical and mental health. Remember the ol’ joke, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well, it’s no joke, now! I pray Mr. Wolhleben’s words are heard and heeded. Plant a tree, save a life… your own!

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  3. fdan

    Dear Father Victor, some final comments tonight: Having prayed the psalms for a good part of the day, I found a renewed appreciation for them. I was telling my sister earlier that I found “psalm trees” today and, ignoring my pun, she asked me, What’s a psalm exactly?? So I left everything to answer her. I found that they are prayers that Jesus learned as a boy and used in his teaching and preaching. Then, she asked me, does that make the Lord’s prayer a psalm? Does it, Father Victor? I couldn’t find anything on the subject. Many thanks!

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  4. vhoagland Post author

    fdan, The Lord’s Prayer could be called a summary of the psalms. That seems to be what Jesus intended. Not to make it the only prayer, but a summary of Christian–Jewish prayer.

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  5. fdan

    Wow! The possibilities, the connections, the roots, the promise, the blessings and so much more all contained in our Lord’s prayer. I told my sister. And she said, “yes, but what did Father Victor say?” And I told her and she said that makes her want to pray the Lord’s prayer for her son every day.. Thank you, Father Victor.

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