This photograph is of trees just along the canal near to where I live. One of the things that has most sustained me during the pandemic has been walking (or sometimes running!) every day. I now find it difficult if the day goes by without me getting outside for some fresh air and exercise – it has become an essential part of my daily routine. Nature sustains me and I have been walking whatever the weather, even when it has been very cold. Another activity which has really sustained me over lockdown is reading novels, as I can just lose myself in other people’s stories. A novel which I read between Christmas and New Year is called The Overstory, by Richard Powers, described on the back cover as ‘the best novel ever written about trees’. It combined my love of trees with my love of novels!
The novel made me see trees in a different light – for instance, one of the characters in the novel (who is based on a real-life person) discovers that trees are in fact communal, and that they live in cooperative and interdependent relationships. Trees are connected through fungal networks – yes, they share water and nutrients, but they also communicate with one another. They send distress signals about drought and disease or insect attacks and trees alter their behaviour when they receive these signals.
Now when I go walking, I see trees not just as individual entities, but as a community, and I like to imagine them communicating with each other underground as I walk above!
Help us to take good care of your creation,
To appreciate the beauty which is all around us,
To take time to enjoy the dignity and majesty of trees,
And to allow ourselves to be sustained by them,
Today and every day,
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.