In a Cumberland cove by the old Oaks you can hear in the hollow the whispering of our mothers. Near a Black Willow, shaking by the Tennessee River, you can hear in its current the laughter of our children. In a field with Pecans and Basswood old enough to trace their ancestors like DARs, you can hear the delight of our fathers. Under a hawk perched in a Sugar Maple limb afire in fall, you can hear old farmers’ whistles.
We have found magic in the trees, shelter under a canopy of green, and reverence for their silent witness. We have walked on parched trails with unmoving roots and thin seedlings and prayed for rain and survival. We have buried our beloved in their shade, praying they find some solace.
Near the interstate beside the mall stands a house that beholds trees that have clapped their hands like the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision: Hemlocks shed cones like tears for the seasons gone by. Sycamores tell the story of the tornado of ‘98 in their bark. Chinquapin Oaks exhale poetry, Catalpas drip with ornamental pods, and Ginkgos put us in our humble place. Poplars call us to passion that comes only from loving the woods.
We should sit on its limestone foundation in moonlight to cherish this Eden and bow our heads in thanksgiving. In such a prayer we would feel the dusty voices of our ancestors rising from the chert to join our thanksgiving for these sacred woods: God give us vision as big as the moon to preserve these woods. Let the moonlight carry our meager prayers to your heart. Knit us to these trees so we teach another to love these woods, and they will be saved. Amen.