Under the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars
In his book `The Tree Heritage of Britain and Ireland`, Andrew Morton writes:`The quiet sense of steady growth and slow development, of yearly renewal and the process of very gradual decay, simply puts them outside the realm of human existence and its inbuilt concepts of short-term satisfaction, which seems to form the basis of present day culture`.
I think we can all resonate with Morton`s sentiments. The contrast between trees which deal in centuries and our present-day culture which deals in instant results is so true to life – human life that is!
Apart from the lessons trees teach us about being patient and not to be always looking for instant results, trees can also be very beautiful. People will be sorry to learn that a century old Moreton Bay fig tree ( as well as many others) will have to give way to the Premier`s vision of the new Perth waterfront.
I was fortunate to know many of the trees Morton talks about and which he illustrates with many photographs. Birr Castle demesne is only a half hour`s drive from my sister`s home. Some of the trees there are centuries old. Lord Rosse brought seeds back from Tibet, China, Mexico, New Zealand and Tasmania and planted them in his grounds. And if you like box hedges you will find the tallest one in the world there at over 10 metres high.
Both the first reading and the gospel today speak about seeds and trees.They do so because they want to teach us the lessons that trees teach us. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God grows so slowly that we don’t even notice it..That`s a major challenge for people who only deal in the here and now – I want such and such and I want it now. Sometimes a TV presenter will shows you in seconds how a plant shoots up from scratch to a full-blown flower . But that only happens on fast film not in the real world of nature.
So today we need to take to heart the lesson Jesus taught us about the way the mustard seed develops from tiny beginnings into a fully grown shrub.
So too the Lord is working quietly in the background of our lives .God is promoting that growth that we ourselves are unable to detect . All we can do is sow the seed, nurture it as best we can and then wait patiently for the end result.
Other scriptural passages remind us that we may never in fact see the result before we ourselves are planted in the soil!
It strikes me also that there is another important lesson written into the story of trees and it is this: you need t have deep and strong roots..
As I was coming down Smith St. on the day after the storm, I noticed that quite a large tree had been uprooted on the corner of Russell street . What I also noticed that there were scarcely any roots to it. And when you combine that with a sandy soil there can be only one outcome. So together with patience and perseverance, the other missing ingredient is the need for strong foundations.
Tadgh Tierney odc