Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. — Albert Einstein
Every part of the earth is sacred; every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every humming insect is holy. — Anonymous
Roger Ulrich is an environmental psychologist who took advantage of a naturalistic experiment . . . What he found was that the patients with a view of a grove of trees left hospital on average a day sooner, needed less pain medication, and had fewer negative nurse’s notes than patients who had a view of a brick wall. — Esther Sternberg in “The Science of Healing Places,” On Being, September 2012
Circle of Trees is a multigenerational program of eight workshops that nurture deep connection with trees, nature, and all of earth's living creatures. The program uses trees as an entry point to understand and connect with life on earth. Across many cultures, trees are recognized as a symbol for life on earth—for example, the biblical Tree of Life. Even young children understand trees as sustainers of life, fundamental engines of life on earth as we know it. Trees create and purify the air we breathe. They house and provide resources for myriad creatures, including humans. They bring us peace, joy, and delight.
This program will:
- Provide a basic understanding of why trees are, literally, “providers of life”
- Identify threats to trees and the web of life and provide inspiration to take action
- Explore using methods that are spiritual, non-intellectual, with the hope of fostering deep connection
- Provide meaningful ways in which participants can actively promote the health of trees and, by extension, the web of life
- Reinforce the concept of interdependence as expressed in the seventh Unitarian Universalist Principle, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”
- Affirm that stewardship of the earth is an explicit act of Unitarian Universalist faith.
The most important qualities for leaders of this program are curiosity, joy, and an ethic of care for the environment.
Multigenerational programs are an excellent opportunity to engage youth co-leaders in the leadership team. Adolescents rarely find themselves in communities that welcome their leadership, and this program invites our congregations to be a sorely needed exception.
Stewardship of the environment is a crucial, timely topic relevant to people of all ages, who live in all kinds of family relationships. Using this program, congregations can build multigenerational community by engaging adults, youth, and children fully as Unitarian Universalists heeding the call to action in service to earth. When publicizing the program, be clear that everyone is welcome—indeed, needed: single people, families of any configuration, adults of all ages. The program serves children as young as eight or nine and youth and adults of all ages. The UUA website offers additional resources for multigenerational programming in congregations.
Anticipate the participant who simply must move in order to remain engaged, or the older person who must be near the speaker in order to hear, can help you create an inclusive program. No one should be excluded from the program or its activities by real or perceived physical or other limitations. The most essential tool in the process of inclusion is awareness that adaptation may be needed. Some activities offer specific adaptations under the heading Including All Participants, immediately after the Description of Activity.