Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details

Eulogy for a tree of Life



"Green" by digital artist Lauren Chuslo -Shur

“Greens” by digital artist Lauren Chuslo-Shur

Last week, I spent time with the big, old, now-dead ash tree, a towering skeleton in our yard, its bark sloughing off in sheets.

If ever there was a physical metaphor for vanquished life, embodied sorrow, this was it.

Yet how deceiving appearances can be. There was so much more here.

Since it would be gone by the time we returned a few days later, I wanted to make my goodbyes, express my appreciation.


Photo: Nelson Ashberger

For all of those years of shade, all of the homes it has provided for so many living things. For how its leaves have nourished the soil, and for not once creating any damage to property, or others, despite the great number of intense storms it has endured; the weight of snow and ice it has borne.

Yes, my petty thoughts noted, it was difficult to grow tomatoes out there under all that shade.

But the blessings this relation of ours from the plant kingdom has showered are not only numerous but, more humbling, so often taken for granted, day by day.

In a way, as the stage of its death has played out over a span of time, it feels that there is sadness and grief, former burdens carried by hearts like mine, that this decades-long companion is bearing away with it when the workers and their equipment take it down and haul it away. Israel 139

Even its final act is service: heat for our neighbors in some future wintry days.

I read recently that the denizens of the natural world, the trees and their brothers, streams and their sisters, all expend their energy to offer up what benefits others, yet never make use of it themselves.

This reality is the most timeless of the gifts my Ash brother leaves behind him.




4 thoughts on “Eulogy for a tree of Life

  1. Thanks for this, Phyllis–

    As always, thought-provoking and heartfelt. 🙂

  2. I often think that if we truly saw the Creator in all things, we would treat all things with care and respect, and thus this world would become a different world. Thanks for your lovely words of thanks to the tree, a beautiful tribute, and acknowledgment of its true nature. In truth a tree is not just a thing we put to use, dominate and control. It is a fellow creature–a creation of God. I feel sad at your loss, and understand how you feel. Years ago my parents took down some birch trees I had grown up with. I still have a piece of one of those birches. You’ve suffered the loss of a friend, a stolid companion, I know. And what a lesson about service–thank you for your wise words!

  3. Thank you Phyllis for pointing out what is right in front of us if we would just take the time to truly look and see.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.