I love trees.
The symbolism of trees is one of my favorite spiritual images. I wrote about this a few years ago on Healthy Spirituality on this post about how the symbol of a tree helped heal my brokenness.
I have also listened for the Lessons from the Olive Trees on our trip to the Holy Lands.
Listen to the trees as they sway in the wind. Their leaves are telling secrets.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought.
The Wonder of Trees
Did you know trees talk to one another?
Check out this Tedtalk about how this happens. The researches says, “Forests aren’t simply collections of trees, they’re complex systems with hubs and networks that overlap and connect trees and allow them to communicate, and they provide avenues for feedbacks and adaptation, and this makes the forest resilient. That’s because there are many hub trees and many overlapping networks.”
Amazing. If you are reading this post by email you may need to go to the blog to watch this video.
TED Talks actually have a series about trees. Here is the link to check out more videos: https://tedxinnovations.ted.com/2016/06/16/8-talks-on-the-wonders-of-trees/
More Wonders from Trees
Did you know?
- The bristlecone pine is the oldest living tree — one specimen is 4,600 years old!
- Trees first appeared on Earth long before the dinosaurs did – about 400 million years ago.
- Why do we “knock on wood? It comes from a superstition. People knocked on wood to thank the tree’s spirit for granting them a favor.
- There are over 20,000 different kinds of trees in the world?
- Yes it’s true: When tree leaves turn upside down in a fresh breeze you can expect rain?
- Roots can extend up to three times the height of the tree. The notion that the root of a tree mirror its crown is more artistic than accurate. The shape of a tree resembles a wineglass set on a plate.
Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don’t see what goes on underground – as they grow roots. Trees must develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don’t see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree.
- A large leafy tree may take up as much as a ton of water from the soil every day.
- Did you know that the cambium is the only part of a trunk that is alive? The cambium is a thin layer of growing cells, just under the bark.
- Bark can be very thin or very thick. The bark of a birch tree may be only 1/4-inch-thick, while the bark of a giant sequoia can be as much as 2 feet thick.
God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.
Sacredness of Trees
Throughout history trees have been a spiritual image. In every culture, certain trees and groves were protected as “sacred.”
- In Scottish folklore a friendly tree spirit, called the Ghillie Dhu, helps lost children find their way home.
- Native American call them, “our standing brothers and sisters.”
- The Greeks and Romans saw the hawthorn as symbolic of hope and marriage, but in medieval Europe it was associated with witchcraft and considered to be unlucky.
- Believed to be the largest yellow oak in the United States, the tree located in Oley, Pa., dates back almost 500 years. The tree received its “sacred” attribution due to a native Indian legend that claims that the tree possesses the power to heal. This sacred tree was looked upon as the shrine tree of the Delaware Indians, who prayed for it whenever they needed help.
- In ancient Israel, the Ark of the Covenant was made from acacia wood. Noah built the Ark from gopher wood.
- Jesus knelt and prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane surrounded by olive trees. He would be crucified on a cross made from a tree.
- Most homes decorate a Christmas tree in December.
Wisdom Tree Words
“A tree falls the way it leans.”
“When you enter a grove peopled with ancient trees, higher than the ordinary, and shutting out the sky with their thickly inter-twined branches, do not the stately shadows of the wood, the stillness of the place, and the awful gloom of this doomed cavern then strike you with the presence of a deity?”
“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.”
– John Muir
“A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.”
– A Welsh proverb
“The wonder is that we can see these trees and not wonder more.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
– Abraham Lincoln
Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
– Martin Luther
How do trees draw you into wonder? Or do they?
Nancy Ruegg says
I, too, stand in awe of the trees: the size of some, the majestic spread of their canopies, the “clapping” of their rustling branches (Isaiah 55:12), the sudden explosion of tiny green leaves in the spring, the glorious array of color (some years!) in the fall–to name a few wonders. The more we learn about the life of a tree, the more parallels we see to inform our lives. To that end, I started a blog post just this morning about the lessons to be found in the changing leaves of autumn. It would seem, Jean, our thoughts are running in the same direction!
Jean Wise says
Isaiah is a great verse to include when we ponder trees. Thanks for adding that. Yes our thoughts do seem to match. I am so looking forward to meeting and talking in person!
Nancy Ruegg says
Me too, Jean, me too!!
Hey! I came across your blog today and really love all the beautiful insight you share on spirituality and your soothing, entertaining way of writing <3 I also nominated you for the Liebster Award, check my latest blog post on http://www.heart-bridges.com 🙂 Feel free to join in or not join in, what ever feels right for you 🙂
Jean Wise says
Glad we are connecting. Yes I will visit you blog too. Just back from a cruise – yes it was great but so far behind in comments. As a blogger I suspect you know what I mean. Thanks for the Liebster award too!
Martha Orlando says
Jean, I absolutely loved the fun facts and quotes about trees. As you probably know, we live in a forest, and I love being surrounded by such majesty every day. Yes, there is something so special about trees, both physically and spiritually. Often, when I gaze into their branches, I find myself thanking and praising God.
Jean Wise says
Trees are a powerful spiritual symbol for me and I learn so much by listening to God through all his creation and like you, find myself thanking and praising God!