Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Respect for Trees

For all their interest in trees, they did not appear to worship them but merely to hold them in high regard. The Ollamh was asked, "of all the things which inhabit the earth, why should trees be held sacred?" "Why do you ask?" he said. "Because it seems to me that trees live, and grow, and die like any other living thing. Also, a tree can be cut down and burned, and it is no more. Would it not be better to worship a thing which cannot be so easily destroyed?" He answered, "Your question is well considered. If you would know the answer, hear then. This is the way of it: Trees live out of themselves; they neither kill to eat - like the creatures of land and sea - nor do they toil for their food. But the All-Wise nourishes them in season, and their span outlasts all other living things in creation. Their wisdom runs deep as their roots in the earth, even as their branches reach toward heaven in exaltation of their Creator. Yes, they may be cut down, and when they fall, they die. But whether burned in the fire or used for building, their lives are given for the those they serve - either for warmth in the cold or to support the roof above, so that even in death these giants of the land serve those who depend upon them. In this way they are the emblem of the druids, who seek to emulate these noble quailities in all our ways. Although trees such as the oak and hazel are much revered by the filidh, we no longer worship them as of old. Worship of the creature is blind folly, but worship of the living Creator is the beginning of Wisdom. It is meet {apropo} that the lamb of God would be hung upon a tree to give His life as a ransom for many.

{adapted from a historical novel of Patrick by Stephen Lawler (?)}


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