The Tree of Life.

It is the end of the month of August, Women’s month in South Africa, with MARFAM’s focus on Sexuality as a Family Gift. SA focused strongly on gender-based violence, a serious social problem, as well as women’s rights.  From a social perspective my concern is that the context of family is mentioned, but only occasionally, or in passing.  What is not taken into consideration much is the psycho-spiritual aspect of sexuality as a gift from God for ongoing creation.

This same psycho-spiritual focus is highlighted when considering the environment and the SEASON OF CREATION as well as MARFAM’s September theme OUR WORLD OF FAMILIES.   Download overview and reflections from website.

We are blessed with the annual Season of Creation as an ecumenical and spiritual initiative of more than 20 years, to which Pope Francis has made a Catholic contribution of the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation on September 1.  Prayer and an awareness of creation are important aspects of ecology and seldom brought into ecological discussions. I’m not a very avid devourer of daily news but it appears that climate change and disasters are only reported as news from a secular perspective. Fires, floods, heatwaves, droughts and famines do involve people as well as animals and plants, i.e. the other families of creation and their lives and deaths. Ethics and morality do sometimes feature as a need for responsibility and accountability. LS 127, 2

Without the spirituality and creation focus there is little societal acceptance of responsibility and accountability for the harm done to all the areas of creation. We humans are the only creatures that should take responsibility as animals and plants do not cause the kind of harm that we do by burning fossil fuel, pollution and wastage of resources.  Nature itself has a natural circular and sustainable economy so that waste becomes reused elsewhere. LS140.

We, humans, beginning in our families, at this time could consider the harm for which we are responsible and take preventative and restorative action. Something appropriate for this Season of Creation is trees, care and protection of forests and trees and planting more trees, especially indigenous trees and fruit bearing trees, which are not always indigenous.

The Johannesburg Justice and Peace department outlined the Archdiocesan plan for ‘Greening the Archdiocese.”  In negotiations with the JHB City Parks department an agreement was reached to provide and plant trees for each of the parishes.  Fr Kgomotso, the Vicar, also described his own tree planting campaign, planting fruit seeds and pips and acorns to “green the Vaal,” the southern portion of the archdiocese.  For Toni’s family spekboom campaign some succulent spekboom cuttings  were donated. These are easy to grow and water-wise and healthy sources of vitamin C.  Vegetable growing too offers quick and healthy results even with careful use of precious water. What should not be forgotten in all this activity is the combination of prayer and action.        

Praying to trees as has been done in prehistoric times is superstition.  However, praying to God with wonder and awe for creation and the beauty and value of trees is a different matter.  Below is a story and a prayer/ritual of a Jewish tree planting tradition.

The Story of the Planter.  While walking along a road, a sage saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked him: “How long will it take for this tree to bear fruit?” “Seventy years,” replied the man. The sage then asked: “Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?” The man answered: “I found a fruitful world, because my ancestors planted it for me. Likewise I am planting for my children.”  

Our Prayer for Our Child and Her/His Tree  Dear God, we stand before you in awe as we witness these miracles of your creation—this young tree and our new baby. Both are unique and original, unlike anything that ever was before or will be. Each began with a single seed, concealing a complex potential that miraculously unfolds with each passing day. We pray that the roots of this tree will gain hold and spread deep, drawing nourishment from the fertile earth. So may our child draw nourishment from her/his own roots—family, heritage and the Jewish tradition. We pray that the trunk will grow healthy and strong, withstanding the harsh forces of nature and able to support its canopy of branches and leaves. So may our daughter/son possess a healthy body and a strong moral spirit, holding steadfast to his/her own integrity and withstanding the tempests and temptations that could weaken or deter her/him. We watch these branches bud and blossom, giving shade and beauty for all to enjoy. So, too, may we watch our child bud and blossom to be a blessing and support to family, friends and community, and to make his/her unique contribution to the world. Help us nourish and nurture this tree and our child so that they may both mature and prosper, fulfilling to the greatest extent possible the potential for which God placed them on earth.”

There are many activities families can conduct around trees and their gift in nature. Is it silk worm time yet or too early in the season? Pope Francis repeatedly states, “Everything is connected” and we humans can learn much from reflecting on the connections. TR FAMILY MATTERS WEEKLY 31 August 2022

For much more on the Season of Creation go to