Trees Planted

After an hour’s work last night, I had a hole 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide. It was time to plant the new peach tree. Its root ball was in about a 3-gallon bucket, so it seemed overkill, but such were our instructions. The native soils of southwestern New Mexico are not known for being rich. Down went a layer of gypsum, then topsoil and compost mixed with regular soil, bone meal, more compost—we filled half the hole up again with “good stuff” for the young tree. Finally, more combination of compost and soil until it was at the right level and anchored in on all sides. Then we flooded it with water. As I put tools away the thought dawned on me that we were planting under a growing moon—an auspicious sign. It felt like we were bringing home a newborn baby! We weren’t here when the original tree was planted, but I wonder if it had such an ambitious start. It was certainly not in good health when we arrived, and its demise can’t really be a surprise. This new one, however, at only a fifth the size, with “good dirt” under it to last a few years, may do better. We can only hope. As we finished Karisse said, “My heart is happy.” We had planted a tree.

Oak trees to the ancient Irish were the axis mundi, the axle of the world, so to speak, whose tops reached for the heavens and whose roots touched the underworld. Similar poles are planted by people who haven’t lost their roots around the world, linking all the levels of being and providing access to them. Being “planted” is more than just getting one’s roots in the ground, and it’s more than being stable and located. It means being connected. The psalmist describes the righteous as “trees, planted by streams of water, whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 100.) In the book of Revelation, the vision of the new Jerusalem includes a river flowing out from under the throne of God, along which twelve trees are planted, whose leaves are “for the healing of the nations.” Being “planted” is about grounded relationships with those around us, both human and otherwise, living and (so-called) not living, of knowing who you are, and at the same time being open and connected in your relationships.

I have moved a lot in my life; lived in a lot of different places, but if I am “planted” then I’m good.

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