Contemplation of a tree. A discipline for Lent.

Matthew Allen has kindly prepared a piece for Lent which can be found on our Times of Thought Page. Here is a short introduction to the piece with a quote by Walter Burghardt SJ

I know a majestic oak tree planted perhaps 300 years ago it’s something most people drive or walk past without probably noticing. Another tree. A large tree, yes – it’s about five feet in diameter – but it’s just a tree. I’ve often walked past it but have found it’s called to me to notice it. And, as I’ve stopped to gaze, I’ve gradually been amazed by what I see. Ancient bark, grey-gnarled like the skin of an old, old man; its massive roots burrowing down into the earth giving life to various plants the seeds of which had gathered at its feet; birds and butterflies in its branches and insects climbing over an under its skin. Leaves which take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen and then fall to the ground to be turned into mulch and compost, the means whereby other plants can live. How we need to learn the lessons about giving and taking its very presence can teach us. Do we give more to Mother Earth or take from it? What do we need to change in our behaviour?
I’ve long loved trees and, yes, like our much-maligned Prince of Wales, I talk to mine, touch it tenderly and meditate on what it tells me. How it stands there year in year out, witnessing to the value of stillness and stability. It takes moisture from the earth and gives back so much more. But, for most people, I guess it’s just a tree. Unless you stop and ‘take a long, loving look at the real’ (Walter Burghardt SJ).