Healing and Helping
Trees are helpers and healers. As we consider trees, and what it might mean for us to be like them, this thought has been both comforting and challenging for me. As I continue to consider what it might mean for the way I live my life and love my Lord, this idea of trees being both helpers and healers is one that has grown on me this week and one that I'd like to spend some time sharing with you.
What does it mean for a tree to be a helper? Trees cool our homes with shade and evaporation, effectively acting as an outdoor air-conditioner and reducing our energy usage. Trees can also reduce both wind and noise, making our homes warmer in the winter and quieter and more restful. Did you know that trees make your business more attractive to customers and less likely to be affected by crime? Trees are extremely effective at settling and trapping dust, pollen and smoke, reducing such air pollutants by as much as 75%. Trees help reduce water runoff and decrease soil erosion. Did you know trees helped us in all of these ways? Neither did I before this week - but I'm grateful for all of the ways that trees help us in these and many other ways.
What does it mean for a tree to be a healer? Did you know that trees absorb carbon dioxide and other harmful gasses? In fact, according to the U.S. Forrest Service, trees remove more than 26,000 tons of air pollution right here in Kansas City every year. And while they are removing pollution, they are returning clean oxygen - one large tree can produce a day's supply of oxygen for up to four people! Many trees are used to make medicine, of both the traditional and home remedy/natural healing variety. Also, through extensive studies in numerous contexts, scientists have established that people are happier in their work and their personal lives, sick less often and more relaxed when they spend time near or within sight of trees.
This very partial summary of the ways in which trees are both helpers and healers should be
enough to point out yet another reason why God is wise in comparing the righteous to trees planted by streams of water. Remember our theme for the week? If we wish to be righteous, we will be people of substance, people interested in seeking the well-being of the other. We will be interested in the healing of the nations. We will care for those who are in distress. We will help our brothers and sisters in need. How can we reduce the 'pollution' in our world? How can we assist our neighbors in such a way that they are able to conserve their financial resources more efficiently? How can we help our neighbors breathe better (this is an even more interesting
question when we consider that the Hebrew word for breath or wind is the same word for Spirit!). This all fits so well with our identity statement. Remember, 'we are a family of believers, broken by sin, bound together by God's love, on a Spirit-led journey to wholeness in Christ.' The images of being bound together by God's love (symbolized here by the Jerusalem cross - the image of four crosses bound together in the shape of a cross) and the Spirit-led journey we are on together, these images join perfectly with the call that we be helpers and healers. This call to be trees, coupled with the helping and healing qualities of trees, meshes together as naturally as the collective roots of the Redwood.
So, what do we do now, to bring about or enhance these characteristics of healing and helping? Ask God to help you be like a Tree, helping and healing the world around you. What passages could you use to help guide you in how to help the world? What scriptures could you turn to for wisdom in how to be a part of the healing of your community? Ask, and our Father in heaven who knows how to give good gifts, will surely answer your prayer.