Nature Knows us - do we know nature?
by John Moat
Cover: Temple de la Sagrada Familia, Pinacle de la Nau lateral, obra d'Esturo Soto, by Antoni Gaudí, Photograph: Pere Vivas
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The pedunculate oak - Photograph: Andrew Lawson
Commemorating Armistice Day with a commitment to peace.
In 2,000, the Editors of Resurgence were given twenty-five seedling oaks to mark their twenty-fifth anniversary. Having no suitable site of its own, Resurgence was offered a piece of wilderness land, beautifully positioned and south-facing, secluded and close to the sea, in its home parish of Hartland, North Devon.
A group came together to plant the trees on, coincidentally, Armistice Sunday. Three of the group had lost their fathers in the 1939–45 War, and so it happened naturally that at 11 o’clock the group observed a silence. Out of this emerged the resolution to keep the tree circle as a commemorative ground, and at the same time each year, to celebrate a new emphasis to the traditional Armistice Day remembrance — not only honouring the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in past wars, but making a commitment to work for peace in the present. The group has continued to meet each Armistice Day, more have joined and additional trees have been planted.
A form of pledge was suggested that would express the inclusive spirit that had informed the idea: “During the silence of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month we remember the strife of humankind; and we honour the sacrifice of the many of every nation intent on peace as an end to war, and the suffering of all men, women and children, and all the animals as well, and of the Earth herself.
“And in honouring that sacrifice and suffering we renew our determination to make war a thing of the past, to establish an environment of peace throughout the world, and to heal division by affirming the aspiration of all true religions — namely to realise peace founded on compassion, and the trust and fearlessness of love.”
The suggestion now is that others be invited to create their own tree circles on any available land — the wild or wasteland, field or garden or public park — and in this way achieve a growing network of tree circles or peace groves around the world. This would broaden the experience and deepen the relevance of Armistice Day and maybe make it more approachable to young people who understandably feel detached from the wars of the past.
Where the world environment is so threatened, a tree circle requires no raison d’être beyond its own existence. But that existence then offers sanctuary and tranquillity, a place where people can be on their own or meet together, as well as a space for performance and such ceremonies as naming, wedding and memorial.
The initiative has generous backing from The Woodland Trust, which has agreed to extend to the Tree Circle Project its own Trees for All scheme which currently supplies packs of thirty trees to schools and youth groups.
For further information visit www.woodland-trust.org.uk/hedge.