The Elm and the Children
You may have noticed last year that we planted a little Elm tree in the yard. And you might have noticed that over the summer, it moved. I wanted to tell you the story behind the wandering Elm because I think it tells us some important things about community.
I asked Peter Waltz if we could plant an Elm tree, because it seems good for us to have an Elm on our property. Peter had talked with me more than once about the amazing new Elm trees that are disease resistant. I was planning a service for the spring about trees and thought it would be nice to combine them. And since we started doing the Elm Dance I thought it would be especially lovely to have an Elm tree. So Peter, with all his tree wisdom, got us one. And we had several conversations with building folks and garden folks and RE folks about how to plant it. We discussed possible locations. A few weeks went by and Peter was eager for the quickly leafing out tree to be in the ground. So we put it in the ground by the garage. We knew that the children used that garage for games, particularly dodge ball. It was also a great sunny spot for the tree. A few weeks later Linsey-Jean came to me and said, “The children are afraid to play there now; they’re worried they’ll hurt the tree. It seems like their play space has been pushed out.” So we had a meeting out by the tree, Peter, Linsey-Jean and I. And Peter said he thought the tree would tolerate being moved. So over the tree went, to stand next to the big old stump near the Parsonage. Peter watered it every week with water from his well and it seems to be thriving. I see it out of the corner of my eye and think someone is standing there in the yard, it’s just that size.
I am telling you this tale because I think it’s an interesting example of navigating the tensions between the various commitments of our congregation. This congregation appreciates trees and gardens and the natural world. I have referred to FUUSE congregants as being neo-Transcendentalists. Meaning that we are a community that values the goodness of people and the natural world and also a community that values the wisdom that comes from direct experience of wonder and connection with the natural world. That’s why many in our congregation also have deep commitments to protecting the earth and the varieties of natural habitat. We also have profound commitments to children, to the future that our children will live in, and to the present day with children. Out of urgency to take care of the Green Being that wanted to be in the dirt, we inadvertently caused our Young Humans to feel like we didn’t see them. The Green Being probably struggled a bit this summer having been moved, but it looks healthy as we head into fall. We have reason to believe it will be green and growing in the spring. I appreciate that Peter was watching out for the Green Beings and that Linsey-Jean was watching out for the Young Humans. And I really appreciate that, in addition to taking action on behalf of their part of the web of life, they were willing to have a conversation about what they thought and what was possible. I look forward to doing the Elm Dance this year, with our Tree and our Children.
~ Rev. Kendra Ford