In this week’s devotional, “The Secret Speech of Trees,” we learn that trees can communicate with each other in surprising ways.
This 8-week interfaith devotional has been designed to encourage and uplift you as you connect your faith with your love of nature. The devotional is part of the Healthy Trees, Healthy People, Healthy Faith study in Lexington, Kentucky, which you can read about here. But you can use this devotional wherever you are in the world that you can find some trees!
[Want to read the other devotionals in this series? Start with Week One and work your way through!]
“The Secret Speech of Trees”
Reading from Hebrew Scriptures:
Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for God comes to judge the earth. (1 Chronicles 16:33)
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12)
When the Bible personifies trees as singing and clapping their hands, we might think of these images simply as poetic metaphors. But, in fact, science has found that trees have human-like capacities that may surprise us. For example, did you know that trees “talk” to each other? They communicate through an underground fungal network that connects the trees through their root systems. Sometimes called the “Wood Wide Web,” this complex interchange between trees allows them to share resources, alert each other about pests, and nurture seedlings. Perhaps, then, it’s not too far-fetched to imagine trees “worshiping” their Creator as described in Psalm 96:12: “Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise” (New Living Translation).
Now that you’ve spent the last seven weeks learning about the importance of trees and how they connect to different faith traditions, you may want to consider becoming an advocate for these “woody worshippers.” Two organizations local to Lexington, KY (from where this devotional is originating), are the Urban Forest Initiative and Tree Lexington. You may also consider joining the Arbor Day Foundation, an international organization with excellent resources for education and conservation.
Questions to ponder:
- In what ways have you learned to “listen” to trees during these last few weeks? What have you sensed the trees “speaking” to you during your walks? Are they communicating that they are healthy? Stressed? Content?
- What have you learned through the Healthy Trees, Healthy People, Healthy Faith program that you will likely take with you into your future encounters with trees?
Prayer:With the trees of the forest, fields, parks, and backyards – we praise you, Creator God. We marvel at the intricacies and interconnections between all parts of nature. Heighten our senses and awareness that we may advocate for the trees and the ecosystems in which they live. Amen.
[If you want to receive the full 8-week devotional via email, contact me at email@example.com.]
Want to see the previous weeks’ devotionals? You can start with the first week here and follow the links for the rest of the devotionals online.
Leah D. Schade is the Assistant Professor of Preaching and Worship at Lexington Theological Seminary (Kentucky) and author of the book Creation-Crisis Preaching: Ecology, Theology, and the Pulpit (Chalice Press, 2015). She is an ordained minister in the Lutheran Church (ELCA).