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The Tree of Life…

image014The Fall is my favorite season… Okay wait… I do love the summer as well, but there is something about the cooler weather, the trees changing color and then the leaves slowly falling from the trees in their multi-colored splendor that just takes my breath away. The interesting thing about the leaves is that they are a large community that lives in symbiotic relationship with a tree. Each leaf has its distinct life and characteristics and yet is part of the larger whole. Individual leaves respond to moisture, temperature, and hormonal feedback from its environment and the tree. This can all be understood in the science of trees and leaves. I remember during an entry level science course that I once took we learned about the plant hormone abscisic acid. It is abscisic acid, when triggered, that isolates individual leaves from the tree removing the flow of chloroform, which is what turns the leaf a different color. Abscisic acid is what severs and then heals the bond between the tree and leaf, and thus the leaves fall to the ground and the tree remains intact. The fallen leaves act as a bed of mulch which protects and feeds the roots of the tree in inclement weather. As the colder weather sets in, abscisic acid slowly moves from one leaf to another and from one tree to another enabling us to see the gradual turn of color as each leaf and tree responds to the call of Fall.

Using the tree as a symbol, also known as the tree of life, is prevalent in many of the world religions and “has been used in science, philosophy, and mythology. The tree of life is a common motif in various world theologies, mythologies, and philosophies. It alludes to the interconnection of all life on our planet and serves as a metaphor for common descent in the evolutionary sense.” ( In Judaism, one can see the Kabbalah, which is a representation of this tree of life and also is considered to be a sacred geometric symbol. Sacred geometry can be found on ancient artifacts and mathematically elucidates our interconnection with one another and the cosmos. The most basic sacred geometric symbol is referred to as the seed of life and contains the pattern, which when continued literally grows to become the tree.

The theme for this month’s worship is Our Interdependent Web… And the question that should be on our minds is, “How do we each fit into the larger universal picture?” I like to imagine that we are each like one of those leaves… That we are each part of a larger whole, which is First Parish, and we work together to take care of the whole but in our own unique ways and with, at times, colorful flair. We add beauty to our surroundings and protection during the harsher weather, and when the wind blows we are all affected. A tree, or organization such as the congregation of First Parish, is a complex system when viewed closely, but when viewed from afar it looks like… well just another tree or Meeting House… Yet First Parish in unique, to say the very least. In the months and years ahead we will endeavor to imagine how we are interconnected and uncover what helps us make meaning in our lives and what we appreciate about one another. We will also try to imagine how we can share, with the larger metro west community, our claimed identity and what we feel is important in a town like Sudbury and the surrounding communities to offer from our liberal religious home.

As we rake those leaves this Fall let’s remember the roots and how they need to be protected and nurtured beneath the surface. The same is true with regard to cultivating our awareness, investment, and connection to First Parish, our interfaith community of hope and love.

Blessed be the tree!

Rev. Marjorie