There are lots of stories and poems about trees; one of the most famous poems about trees is written by a man named Joyce Kilmer.
Trees, Joyce Kilmer (For Mrs. Henry Mills Alden)
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day, 5
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain. 10
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
In this poem the tree becomes like a person…a person with a ‘hungry mouth,’ and looks at God all day…and prays with outstretched arms—leafy arms. The tree is like a person in whose hair a robin makes a nest; and who lives with the rain…intimately.
Trees are a very important part of our lives.
In the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, there are two very famous trees: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which Adam and Eve were told to stay away from; and the tree of life, which had fruit for the gods – if you ate from that tree, the story says, you would live forever.
The Genesis story says that Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They ate – the fruit from that tree is usually depicted as an apple.
(The little bump on the front of the neck is called the Adam’s Apple—the story says that Adam was swallowing his bite of the apple when he got caught, so some of it stuck in his throat.)
Genesis I. “God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ 29And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. 31And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.”
‘Behold, it was very good.’
We are the eyes and ears of the Creator: we must look at the Creation…and ‘behold it,’ and see that it is very good. Behold…look at it!
What does it mean ‘to have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth?’
I’ll tell you what I think, or what I believe. That’s what this pulpit is for…to give an opinion (in this case, my opinion) about something I think is important.
‘To have dominion’ over all the living things on earth means to be responsible caretakers of the earth.
The word dominion is related to the word domicile; and a domicile is a house, or home.
The Bible story reminds us that the whole earth is our home, and we must be responsible caretakers of this home…the air, soil, water…and remember the trees!
How could we forget the trees? Think of all the things in your own home that come from trees – what about this home of ours…the church? Can you name some things that come from trees?
For example, the chair on which you’re sitting; this pulpit. The hymnal; order of service: paper–. Paper towels. Tissues/Kleenex.
What are some things we eat that come from trees?
Fruit: apples, oranges, pears, plums, olives…maple syrup!
Trees serve many functions: the oxygen that is given off by the leaves…and their ability to absorb some of the waste from burning oil to heat our homes, gasoline to drive our cars…electricity that requires coal or oil – the electricity that runs the computer or recharges the cell phone…
It’s very important that each of us takes some responsibility for the care of this earth of ours; to have dominion.
The earth needs us. The earth is fragile – just like a person. It gets hurt.
How can you help? You can turn off lights when they’re not needed; you can conserve paper towels—use less paper; don’t waste things; don’t stay in the shower too long; think about gas mileage when you buy or lease your next car; turn down the thermostat in the winter, and turn up the thermostat in the summer—using less air conditioning.
We think of big things that people do, like saving someone’s life and we call them heroes. But the little things that each one of us can do has a heroic part to it.
Can you be a hero if no one is looking; no one gives you a medal, or even ‘notices?’ Maybe that’s the most heroic thing of all.
Tom Brokaw wrote a book about what he called ‘the greatest generation.’ The people who lived through the depression and the second world war…those who sacrificed so much and struggled so much.
You must be the ‘greenest generation.’ The generation that refrains from harming the earth; the generation who takes the responsibility in a voluntary way, to restore health to our wounded earth.
So, today we’re going to model that behavior; we’ve planted a tree.
Next Sunday, April 30, is Arbor Day in Connecticut. Does anyone know the name of our state tree? (White Oak)
Today we’re to dedicate a tree, a River Birch, which has special beauty in every season…it’s a four-season tree. Thanks to Pamela Weil for providing the tree, and to Don Snook, Jamie Forbes and her friend Marcy for planting it.