... in a man hugging a tree

Published on 15 Apr 2021
A man hugging a tree

On a walk recently I saw a man next to the canal who appeared, I thought, to be hugging a tree. However, he was wearing a hi-vis coloured jacket, and I realised that he was holding the tree branches to one side so that his colleague, who was using surveying equipment, could get a line of sight along the footpath. He was striking quite the pose. 

This reminded me that humans are in a perpetual struggle with nature, at one moment we are stuggling with it, holding it back, perhaps trying to destroy it, perhaps sometimes it is trying to destroy us, and the next moment, we are full of wonder and awe, and embracing it. Some humans do more of the former than the latter ... 

This scene reminded me too of conversations with different people about dandelions, some believing we should let them grow to encourage the insects, others determined to remove every dandelion despite the futility of their struggle, seemingly as a matter of principle! 

It is easy to blame big corporations and think that it is only the big acts of destruction that matter, like the building of a controversial new runway or new railway line like HS2. But if the recent interest in climate change has taught us anything, it's that all our small acts that matter too - leaving a corner of the garden to be a little wild; putting some food out or nesting material for the birds; not littering; using less disposable plastic; considering the airmiles of our food... Conserving nature is about the small details as well as the big corporate acts. Of course, if the pandemic has done anything, it has heightened our awareness of our immediate environment in great detail, encouraging many people to walk more or to grow plants in their gardens. But I fear that this attention to our surroundings will easily get forgotten. 

Still, the sight of that man holding back the tree today was a good reminder to keep caring for God's creation every day, and not expect someone else to step in and do it for us.