Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Furture like a Tree

Post 12

Cultivating The Cosmic Tree Hildegard of Bingen

Pastorius Park

"AS AN OLD MAN was planting a tree, three young men came along and began to make sport of him, saying: "It shows your foolishness to be planting a tree at your age. The tree cannot bear fruit for many years, while you must very soon die. What is the use of your wasting your time in providing pleasure to others to share long after you are dead?" The old man stopped in his labor and replied: Others before me provided for my happiness, and it is my duty to provide for those who shall come after me. As for life, who is sure of it for a day? " Aesop's Fables Copyright 1881 Translator: unknown

Laurel Ridge Foundation, Conn.
Since moving to our property my husband and I have planted 8 small trees: 2 Cherries on the hellstrip, a Crepe Myrtle and Pee-Gee Hydrangea (more a big shrub I'm pruning into a tree,) in front, a Southern Magnolia and a Smokebush( also pruned into a tree,) on the side and 2 Japanese Maples, one on the side and one in back. Because we are on a budget, all these trees have been bought small, one of the maples is only a foot high. These trees will be at their best long after we have sold the house.

But the best trees on the property are the two native Dogwoods that were there when we moved in.  In Dogwood season parts of Northwest Philly transform into a continuous Dogwood forest as property lines fade beneath an aboveground sea of pink and white.

Many people I know are uncomfortable with institutional religion. But if asked, they will mention that they know there is "something" there, something they can feel that runs through all creation. They are mistrustful of closed mindsets, power structures and claims to authority by, well, people who do not seem to make the best case for such authority. Many try out Eastern paths to enlightenment or turn to ecology, gardening, wilderness, food, art or intellectual and political inquiry and action as nurturing and sustaining goods.  Which they are in perspective. But beyond them is a common longing for something hinted at, something like the force that through the green fuse drives the flower (apologies Dylan Thomas.)  For that, I think of an unusual woman in a world where woman were close to nonentities, a Medieval nun, author, composer, healer , and, oh yeah, mystic: Hildegard of Bingen and a word she coined --Viriditas
" Viriditas-- Greeness, derived from the Latin...One of the key terms in Hildegard's writings and her view of the world. It signifies the life-force, freshness of life, constant vitality, or fecundity, and is also a metaphor for virtuous living and a spiritual existence." from The World of Hildegard of Bingen: her life, times, and visions By Heinrich Schipperges, John Cumming

No dry authoritarian, closed-system here. Hildegard is writing about the Life behind life.

Monhegan Island

The Deep Life which we instinctively feel is home.

Pastorius Park

It is not odd that almost every spiritual path features a tree: the Tree of Life, the Bohdi Tree, Yggdrasil, and more. There is something about a tree, its age, its size, its open-armed call and embrace, its greeness, its beauty, its fruitfulness, that makes us feel a sense of a Tree behind the tree: The Tree, Viriditas.

Tree Of Jesse, Chagall

"What is the use of living if not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?"- Winston Churchill


How-to Tree: Mid-Late Fall, up through Thanksgiving, is the best time to plant a tree.

A good link on tree planting is here.  A list of recommended trees for our area  is posted by Fairmont Park. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society has a lot of information on trees here.

Look around. What do you see that is thriving and looks good to you? Ask around to find out what it is. Young trees are not that expensive, especially if bought on sale. And they are a fine shout-out for the future, our sense of the life that is both within us and beyond us.

Monhegan Island


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Smokey said...

You should also mention all of the practical benefits of trees. They cool the planet, scrub the air, give a place for our dogs to mark, and bring joy when the first tiny buds open in the spring after winter.

Kay Wisniewski said...

Good point. All true. Thank you for reading