Yesterday we celebrated the news from today’s science that can shake up spirituality profoundly because it melts the dualism between spirit and matter that religions often fall into. That news is that matter is light. And light is very often a synonym for the divine.
If that is so, then the ancient calls to “enlightenment” from the Buddha, or the declarations that “Christ is the light of the world” from Christianity, that “God is robed in a robe of Light” and that God said “Let there be Light and there was Light” from Psalm 104 and Genesis 1.3 respectively in the Hebrew Scriptures, speak to us of Spirit in our midst.
This because spirit is bigger than matter, but matter is a form of spirit just as Teilhard de Chardin and other creation-centered mystics have celebrated. And the “Incarnation” is what Père Chenu insists on calling “continuous incarnation” because Divinity (Light) is always showing up in flesh or matter. It did not happen just once.
Let us talk about the role of light in trees. And forests. And those who defend trees and forests.
In my chapter on “The Green Man” in my book where I am trying to recapture the deeper meaning of masculinity, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, I offer this amazing fact from a serious student of trees, Fred Hageneder in his important book, The Spirit of Trees: Science, Symbiosis, and Inspiration.
What makes up a tree? The body of a tree is mostly filled with sunlight. ‘Light courses through its structure, navigating vital processes and maintains the balance and health of the whole organism….The tree produces a continuous light show from its very cells.’
Thus to plant trees and to defend trees and honor them and recognize their sacredness is to honor light and the incarnation of the divine in trees.
It is interesting that Meister Eckhart talks often about God as the ground of being and in fact that name for God was Thich Nhat Hanh’s favorite name for Divinity. Trees live not just on the ground but deeply into the ground, that is where roots drink in their nutrients and grow and become sturdy. The soil gives the tree and its deep roots balance and strength.
Yet trees also reach to the heavens, as Hageneder tells us, trees are like ‘cosmic antennae.’ They go from the depths to the heights and connect Earth and Sky.
Scientists studying a 807-year-old juniper tree in Tajikstan found that the tree’s annual rings showed a definite slowing down of tree growth with each known date of three supernova explosions.
Thus we can say, “every star that dies in our galaxy is perceived by trees.”
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 20f.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner Image: “Tree of Life.” Photo by Brooke Hoyer on Flickr.
Queries for Contemplation
Have you experienced the light in trees and emanating from trees? What lessons follow from that? Is a tree another Christ, another Buddha, another Image of God?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God