Rooted and Rising

an essay by Cathy Haig


A while ago, I took a credit course from the ‘Deep Green Faith’ group of the University of the South, Theological Seminary in Sewanee, Tennessee. ‘Rooted and Rising’ was the textbaook for the course that we had to read prior to the first session. The title, I thought to myself, seemed rather odd to be used for a course on Environmental Ecology. As I progressed through the book realized that it was most fitting as it was about climate disruption because of the universal symbolism of the tree.

Nearly every religion uses the image of the tree to convey the mysterious linkage between sky and earth, the realm of the divine and the realm of humanity. The tree embodies the mysterious interchange of birth, growth, death, and new life; of soil, water, air and sunlight; of reaching into the depths while also rising toward the heights. As we witness the ongoing and accelerating degradation of the planetary life systems that support trees, along with all other life forms, such as butterflies and spade-footed toads, these great woody plants are telling us what we need to do in this perilous time. And it is even more prevalent when the forests, are being desecrated with wildfires and in particular those cause by human carelessness. We, who are all created in God’s image must reach deep into our soil of scriptural and spiritual wisdom to draw on the life-giving water and nutrients that can sustain the trunk, branches and leaves of the whole “family tree” that makes its home on Earth.

In the origin story of the Abrahamic faiths, human beings faced with a choice that was symbolized by the tree of knowledge and made a decision that forever shaped their future with each other, with God and with the natural world. Do you remember that story? If you do, it wasn’t really Eve’s fault you know. Today humanity is confronting a similar life-and-death decision. Will we choose self-restraint that allows life to flourish, or will we grab everything for ourselves and sentence ourselves and other creatures to planetary collapse? Look around us.

Humanity has gorged of the fruit of the tree of knowledge and has driven our precious Garden of Earth into ruin. The climate crisis now scorching the Earth is killing not only trees, but also glaciers, entire species of flora and fauna, and even humans. Have you ever lived in 45C heat in the Okanagan without air conditioning? Wildfires, propelled by drought, torch vast stands of forests and towns. Oceans are warming and are no longer being contained by shorelines and floods are raging through subway systems and wash away roads and homes as in Germany. Monster hurricanes continue to pummel us. Our once orderly seasons are becoming weirdly unpredictable. The songbirds at our feeders go missing. So, we say things like: “Things aren’t that bad, the scientists are exaggerating, or this isn’t my problem, I have other things to worry about.” It’s the moment when the fruit from the tree of knowledge falls from our hands and we realize what we and a society based on fossil fuels have done.

After finishing the course, I found myself more open to that which is Sacred and Holy and wanted to know more, so I enrolled in another course at Sewanee called “Greening The Apostles Creed”. What a wonderful experience of that which is Holy. My prayer is that each of you chose to learn more and listen to what area of your life God is calling you to.

Last modified on Sunday, 01 August 2021 16:22

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