I love being in the company of trees, “the Standing Ones,” and I seek out walkways and trails with an abundance of trees. I’m careful as I make my way on trails not to step on the trees’ toes … avoiding their roots that cross the paths. I also avoid ants, beetles, and other living creatures as I step lightly on our earth.
Recently I walked a section of the Appalachian Trail in the Nantahala National Forest. For much of this walk I was surrounded by the remains of trees of many kinds, rhododendrons, mountain laurel and other forest foliage destroyed by what I’ve dubbed “the election day fires” from last November. In the week following the election I was on retreats in and near the Nantahala National Forest as fires, caused by arsons, burned throughout the area. The smoke was visible all the way to downtown Atlanta, and in the mountains it was at times overwhelming. Much was lost in those fires.
I don’t know how the trees can save us, or how we can save the trees, but I know that our mutual survival depends in large part on human action. As I walked through the burned out forest I saw the signs of new life emerging. I am reminded that the earth is profoundly resilient; I hope humanity is as well.