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11.05.2012

trees and naves.


I sat in church shivering, my green coat draped over my shoulders.

There wasn't enough oil to heat the church. So we sat there, shaking a little, cold, but lit by that nameless thing that tethers one to the pew, that makes one kneel before the alter in awe, and begs thanks for how small we feel when under the nave of the church.

The mass was fast--the father needing to get to the next service at the parish's sister church. But in the middle of the accelerated unfolding of ritual the priest gave a homily on global warming--how even if the science is soft, it is an experiential thing and at this point the experience of it cannot be denied, and how we as people who love God--who love our fellow man--must also love the earth, must love this gift of a place that was never ours to keep.

"I can never get over when you're on the beach how beautiful the sand looks and the water washes it away and it straightens it up and the trees and the grass all look great. I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own."

I love that quote.

I love it most especially because it was Andy Warhol who said it. Bet you didn't expect that? I know, it gives it a punch.

When I returned to Brooklyn after the storm I tried to figure out if the winds and rain had accelerated the loss of leaves in such a way that that's what my eye was registering, or if we'd really lost so many trees.

The cutout of green against sky transformed.

There were places where the loss was obvious--the body of the majestic thing now splayed across a street. Desperate roots still clinging to sidewalk.

The trees sing a song in New York. And this week there's less music. Small deaths.

Against the loss of human life, the loss of a tree is a small thing, we all know this. And yet, this week, it has been there at the unearthed trunks and exposed rings of oaks and elms that people have gathered with offerings of small and silent questions: How long was this tree here? How much did it see? And why did it fall--why this one and not that one?

The mantles of God multitudinous. The places in which we we feel our own size and worth extending far beyond pews and naves.

6 comments:

Jenna | The Paleo Project said...

What a beautiful post. Reminds me of the bigness of life. Trees do that especially. They've seen so much. The ocean too. In all this devastation, let the bigness shine through. Somehow.

hannah queen | honey & jam said...

I love everything about this. That quote? My new favorite. Wow.

Days Careen said...

I loved this post and especially the part about silent questions and made me think of trees as stoic silent witnesses that see it all, I guess there is some metaphor in that. I've been thinking of Autumn as natures last sigh and how the leaves changing colour makes Autumn and that final breath of nature what it is, and how trees are always there every season in some different form of themselves and how that reflects the way we feel as seasons change. I've written about it here...http://dayscareen.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/autumn-season-of-last-sighs.htm

l I've put the link as your post made me think some more about what I put a few days ago so thank you for making me think.

nancy said...

Such a beautiful, poetic post. I'm glad you were able to come through the hurricane unharmed!

Faith Decker said...

Amazing. You have such a wonderful writing voice.

Ross & Amanda Goodman- but mostly Amanda :) said...

This was lovely. I love the fall, but I mourn the actual falling of the leaves because after that initial fun of crunchy leaves underfoot fades, there is a stark silence that makes me feel lonely and lost. You idea of the trees singing really resonates with me.