Be one with nature.

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For Faith, Religion and Society, we were required to complete our last experimental learning activity on either Thursday or Friday. We had the option to attend class on Thursday, or attend an event on Friday which happened to be a tree planting ceremony. Seeing that I'm a huge environmentalist, I jumped at the opportunity to be outside and I chose the ceremony. At one o'clock, I hiked over to the front of DeChantal and met my fellow classmates for what would be an eye opening and truly peaceful experience.

After a short speech from Dr. Klaypack, Father Stephen lead us in a religious hymn for the blessing of our world and its people. Afterwards, he blessed the tree and read a very beautiful poem about life in general, and our continuous search for meaning. In addition, other people came up to the tree and read poetry about nature, and inner beauty, and honestly, one couldn't help but to feel a sense of inner peace and self satisfaction. Maybe it's the hippie in me slowly coming out, but I really enjoyed watching the tree be blessed and everyone coming together to admire it's first breathe into the world.

Dr. Klaypack said that a tree is so much more than just a tree; he stated that it was the lungs to our world. If one takes a step back from the rushed lives that we all lead, one can see that a tree is not just a plant, but rather a looking glass into the past, present, and future. A tree tells a story, whether it be from its aging rings, to the color and deterioration of its bark, we can see what it has been through, where it is at, and where it is going. We can look to it for shelter, for peace...for survival. A tree is so much more than just a tree. One just needs to open there eyes and see it for what it really is.

Going to this ceremony made me reflect on a piece by Annie Dillard that I read for my American Literature class titled Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Dillard can be compared to Emerson and Thoreau’s style of writing, for she focuses on the beauty of nature, and our ability to see a budding flower, rather than just a boring stem erupting from the earth. One quote in particular in Dillard’s piece really stood out to me. She states, “But the artificial obvious is hard to see. My eyes account for less than one percent of the weight of my head; I'm bony and dense; I see what I expect. I once spent a full three minutes looking at a bullfrog that was so unexpectedly large I couldn’t see it even though a dozen enthusiastic campers were outing directions. Finally I asked, "What color am I looking for?" and a fellow said, "Green." When at last I picked out the frog, I saw what painters are up against: the thing wasn't green at all, but the color of wet hickory bark (Annie Dillard 3019)."

While I was at the ceremony, I really tried to focus on the inner sight that she speaks of in her piece. I think that we as a society miss a lot of what is going on around us because we don’t take the time the appreciate small miracles and the intricacies of nature. The ceremony really put Dillard’s words into perspective and it was absolutely beautiful to see her thoughts and experiences come to life at the university.

(For further information about the concept of sight, see my blog entry on Annie Dillard)

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