LE JOURNAL 2021
FROM THE EDITOR:
When thinking about the upcoming holidays, there’s probably no more recognizable and universal symbol than the tree. Be it a grand evergreen, a small tabletop fir, or simply a sapling outdoors decorated with lights and garlands, a tree remains the symbol of the Christmas season. Recently someone shared a meditation of sorts on the universality of trees in general, a thought that carries a profound message for us all regardless of religious persuasion or lack thereof, based on simple relatable truths. My friend suggested this: “Every tree in the forest has the same goal— to grow toward the light and to stay rooted in the earth, strong, steady and nourished through wind and storms, through times of calmness and peace.”
To think of ourselves as trees perhaps takes away the potentially polarizing labels and categories we all, as fellow humans, are subject to employ. Trees come in all shapes and sizes, some are indigenous to our local regions, while others are more exotic and foreign to us. But each type of tree, in its own way, exhibits the ebbing and flowing of life in undeniable and beautiful ways. How often do we hear about the valuable experience of children planting a tree together at school and watching it mature? How many of us would rather plant a tree in memory of a loved one than opt for any other gesture in a time of loss? What better image of strength and endurance is there than the one conjured by the expression, “strong as an oak?”
I would venture to say that most of us tend to spend considerable time and often too much money on material gifts for those on our holiday list, whether for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or other annual milestones. Yet, sometimes all it actually takes to bring joy, hope, and sense of community is to offer something true, even when it’s just a mental image. As I have reflected often on my friend’s story about trees in the forest, I’ve amended it a bit to fit my particular view of the world, especially at this time of year. I would say that every tree (each of us) grows toward The Light, specifically the light of love.
My late mentor and dear friend, The Right Reverend Charles Jenkins, retired 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, once shared with me his personal “take” on the human tendency to grow toward that inexplicable light and love. He told me he believed that ultimately, no one can resist Divine Love, no matter how deep our wounds, no matter how knotty our problems, no matter any of our particular circumstances in this life. May we all come to find out what that means to us, as we like trees, grow toward the light and stay grounded in the community of family and friends at this special time of year.
Happy holidays, everyone!