What I Missed
By Lu Mountenay of Independence, MO, USA
For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, says the Lord who has mercy on you. —3 Nephi 10:18, adapted
When I walk to work I take the same route every time. I pass the same houses, railroad tracks, gardens, and, of great delight to me, the same trees. Last year I passed a yard with a large, freshly cut stump. I knew someone likely cut it down for practical reasons, but it still made me sad. Then my sadness turned to a sense of loss. I realized I didn’t even know what kind of tree it was. I couldn’t remember noticing that particular tree, even after walking past it so many times. I took the tree for granted.
I worked several years to earn a master gardener certificate from Dawes Arboretum in Ohio. I learned the botanical names of almost every tree and plant on the reserve and in the region. I conducted tours, highlighting and teaching about everything I didn’t want people to miss.
When I said, “Look at that,” some people looked up, and some looked down. Some were there for the trees; some were there for the flowers and the ferns, the snakes and snails. I was there to help them notice.
I’m so grateful for land set aside for preservation. In the wide world, habitats are disappearing. We clear-cut forests and jungles, leaving stubble and erosion. We remove mountain tops for their coal and minerals. We lay pipelines which disrupt migratory paths. It takes good “noticers” and communities of committed environmentalists (you and me) to make sure we restore habitats, replant forests, and develop and use alternate, renewable forms of clean energy.
Look around while you can. Notice and appreciate while you can. Speak up for the Earth.
Don’t Look Up
I start my journey at the base of the tree
imagining deep place of birth
roots, asleep in rich earth
not buried, as in death, but fully alive
dark, nurturing place to thrive
The tree rises in my gaze
old sentinel, burly stalwart revealing
secret age in concentric circles, spreading
arms of branches
hands of twigs
fingers of foliage
High on a limb, pierced and stunned
betraying culture’s priority
spoiling elegance, belittling grace
waving like a patriotic flag…
I see a blue plastic bag
Prayer for Peace
Creator God, thank you for the generous Earth. Help us live with our host in grace and peace.
Watch the trees outside your window for a few moments. Close your eyes and meditate on Alma’s words about seeds and trees. If you were to plant and grow the Word of God in your heart, what tree might symbolically represent this process? Imagine a seed as it grows into a tree of life and blessing. Ask God to show you how to begin. (See Alma 16:152–173.)
Today, God, I will introduce myself to a tree, research its name, ponder its life-sustaining value, and thank you.