Thomas Berry and The Tree of LifePosted: June 16, 2011
Thomas Berry, in “The Dream of the Earth” wrote about “…the organic unity and creative power of the planet Earth as they are expressed in the symbol of the Great Mother, the evolutionary process through which every living form achieves its identity and its proper role in the universal drama as it is expressed in the symbol of the Great Journey; the relatedness of things in an omnicentered universe as expressed by the mandala; the sequence of moments whereby each reality fulfills its role of sacrificial disintegration in order that new and more highly differentiated forms might appear as expressed by the transformational symbols; and, finally, the symbols of a complex organism with roots, trunk, branches, and leaves, which indicate the coherence and functional efficacy of the entire organism, as expressed by the Cosmic Tree and the Tree of Life.”
A worthy example of the cosmic tree is the southern live oak, Quercus virginiana; known to live more than 1,000 years, they have a trunk circumference of 40 feet or more, and a crown spread of 90 feet or more. The Angel Oak on Johns Island, South Carolina is estimated at 1400 years of age.
A woodworker friend once told me that, by law in the State of South Carolina, when two people stand beneath a live oak and speak their love to each other, they are legally wed. The tree alone serves as their witness. Now, I cannot vouch that to be a fact, but I love the story surely as I love the trees.
These photos were taken in 2004 of the “Tree of Life” in the Audubon Park, New Orleans. The tree survived Katrina and remains strong and stout.