Trees and Sacred Spaces

This is a follow-on from my recent post here on the Baobab Tree and Faith and it branches out
(ouch !!) to consider different species of trees and sacred spaces.

Many who viewed the recent royal wedding of William and Kate commented on how much they liked the maple trees lining the nave in Westminster Abbey.

The idea is not new-  horticulturalists across the world have built enormous cathedrals out of trees, using hazel, beech, fir and chestnut to form living arches.

The "Green Cathedral" above is located in Italy, on the slopes of the Arera mountain near the northern city of Bergamo. It was designed by Giuliano Mauri, a natural architect who died in May 2009. The structure was his last work, to signify the International Year of Biodiversity.
It stands 21 metres tall, with five aisles and 42 columns. It's 28.5 metres long and 24 metres wide, and has been built from 1800 firs, 600 chestnut branches and 6000 metres of hazel branch that's been weaved into the design. 42 beeches have been planted inside, which will grow over time to provide the roof to the structure, which remains open to the rain for the time being.
In New Hampshire, in the United States, the "Cathedral of the Pines" is an interfaith worship centre which was founded back in 1945 by Sibyl and Douglas Sloane as a memorial to those who lost their lives in World War II. It's open each year between May and October, and regularly hosts services from different religions, as well as lectures on sustainability and the environment. It was damaged in an ice storm in 2008, but is asking for donations to pay off the loans used to reconstruct the site.

Closer to home, Milton Keynes near London is the proud owner of the "Cathedral of Trees". 

Designed in 1986 by landscape architect Neil Higson, it's based on the design of Norwich Cathedral.

It is comprised of hornbeam and lime for the nave, evergreens to represent the central spires and flowering cherry and apple trees for the chapels.

 Finally, Whipsnade in Bedfordshire has its own "Whipsnade Tree Cathedral", which spans nine and a half acres and contains chapels meant for each of the four seasons. 
It was planted in 1932 by a soldier, Edmond Blyth, as an act of "faith, hope and reconciliation" following the First World War and an inspirational visit to Liverpool Cathedral. 

The site is now owned by the National Trust, and interdenominational services are held there in June.

Video below of trees and music set to lyrics of the famous poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer.  
One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother trying to teach me this poem !

"The Bare Arms of Trees"

by John Tagliabue

Sometimes when I see the bare arms of trees in the evening
I think of men who have died without love,
Of desolation and space between branch and branch,
I think of immovable whiteness and lean coldness and fear

And the terrible longing between people stretched apart as these

And the cold space between.

I think of the vastness and courage between this step and that step
Of the yearning and fear of the meeting, of the terrible desire
held apart.

I think of the ocean of longing that moves between land and land
And between people, the space and ocean.

The bare arms of the trees are immovable, without the play of
leaves, without the sound of wind; 

I think of the unseen love and the unknown thoughts that exist
between tree and tree
As I pass these things in the evening, as I walk.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: