forest, garden, sacred, grove, Ethiopia, Treesponsibility, Calderdale, Heathrow, UK, Britain, regeneration, woodland

Sacred forests, living arks

Submitted by tomas on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 18:43
In these days of lockdown gloom and confusion it is good to remember that our world is not ONE continuous story where everything inexorably gets worse – or better - but that our world is full of many stories that are unfolding in parallel. This weekend I was uplifted by the moving account of the holy forests of Ethiopia, their hermits, and the people working to preserve and restore the highland forests to their original glory. It tells me that the spiritual and the scientific need not be in contradiction, but can be different facets of the quest for integrity if grounded in an appreciation of and care for the living world around us. Referring to the tradition of Ethiopian christianity, forest ecologist Alemayehu Wassie describes these church forests as living arks of plants, people and other animals, with trees as the foundations and hermits as spiritual protectors, both crucial parts of the forest ecology. This story, told in Emergence Magazine by Jeremy Seiffert and Fred Bahson gives a powerful example of how the human spiritual instinct can combine with scientific understanding in order to create strong protection for the forest and an incentive for its regeneration. Bahson points out that “indigenous cultures like the Orthodox Christian people of Ethiopia have long known is true, that trees are not a green backdrop against which all our vaunted human dramas play out, but actors in their own right, performing what [the Italian novelist] Primo Levi called 'the solemn poetry of chlorophyll
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