St Peter & St Paul's Newsletter - October 2023

Letter from Revd Helen Burnett.

“For every thing that lives is Holy.” William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

As we turned from September to October, and the days begin to feel a little more autumnal our newsfeed is full of the felling of the Sycamore Gap tree. The sadness and bewilderment caused by this apparently random act of vandalism seems to touch a chord with us all.

Trees matter to us, and when we lose them our landscape both internal and external is changed and often we feel their loss as a personal grief.

The felling of one iconic tree on the night of Thursday September 28th coincided with the publication of the ‘State of Nature’ report which brought the news that in the UK, nearly one in six of the more than ten thousand species assessed are at risk of being lost.

When I was in Sweden this summer, I was struck by how many apple trees there were, both in the wild and in the gardens. It reminded me of walking to Canterbury on our 2019 Pilgrimage when we passed through the orchards of the weald stepping over apparently abandoned fallen apples.

In Scandinavian mythology, apples were the food of the gods, maybe that is why the apple trees remain whereas so many have been uprooted in the UK.

In the Jewish and Christian context, the apple was the forbidden fruit, which brought knowledge to those who tasted it, and which determined the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the earthly Paradise.

On our own church wall painting there stands a beautiful tree, next time you are inside take a closer look at the bottom left hand corner.

Our foundational creation story tells how knowledge led to the downfall of humanity embodied in Adam and Eve who lost their capacity to see and feel God walking with them; how prescient that feels today as we see how in spite of so much scientific knowledge, we continue to destroy God’s creation. If we could only retrieve for all humanity the knowledge that all things are sacred then the Sycamore would still stand and the species named by us in the pattern of Genesis would still thrive.

‘The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field’ Genesis 2.2.

Do you have a favourite tree you can name and perhaps tell it’s story? If so please send a short description plus a photograph and I will try to collate a collage of thoughts and images.