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World Environment Day: Ponder the Beauty of God’s Trees

One of the many flowering trees at Mount Carmel


I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


Joyce Kilmer’s poem came to me as I was reflecting on the World Environment Day, celebrated June 5. I memorized “Trees” when I was in grade school, and it frequents me often when I am with trees.

This year’s theme for World Environment Day is biodiversity. I was curious as to how many kinds of trees there are, so I looked it up and learned that there are 60,065 species of trees in the world! That boggles my imagination.

The United Nations first organized World Environment Day in 1974. It was intended to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment. Today more than 143 countries commemorate it.

I wonder how many species of trees there were 46 years ago. And, how many trees there will be 46 years from now? Twenty percent of the Amazon rainforests have been deforested. The U.S. president is threatening to open up the Tongass National Forest, our nation’s largest national forest located in Alaska, to the lumber industry.

One could readily fall into despair.

I chose not to despair, because I can wonder, and I can act.

I can continue to ponder the beauty of God’s trees.

I will, once again, contact the president to save our national resources and parks and not sell them for private corporate gain.

Because after all, “blogs” are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.

This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. Nancy,

    Thank you for this profound blog regarding trees. I too love trees. To ponder their ongoing gifts to us on World Environment Day especially is a multi-faceted blessing. Thank you, Creator and Sustainer of All Life, for the gift of trees who are always teaching us and being there for us.

  2. Thank you, Nancy, for this beautiful reflection about trees. I too love trees. World Environment Day makes this meditation even more special as we rejoice in the creation of multiple gifts all around us.

  3. One of my favorite poems too. We are blessed in a time of so much turmoil to be able to stand in God’s natural world and be able to breathe in peace.

  4. In many ways we are all lovers of trees.(especially at Mt Carmel Bluffs) My mom and I shared that and she made me a lovely rug (wall hanging) with giant pines and sunlight in the background. When I am on a ZOOM call that appears as a backdrop. And over the years I have collected many photos, poems and stories. Been privileged to walk among many trees at retreat centers (One has 100+ trees representing 20 species).
    So let us rejoice in trees and sign-on to protests to government policies that destroy the environment and especially trees.
    Many thanks Nancy for focusing our attention.

  5. Have always loved this poem and grateful that you reminded us of its giftedness. Have for years focused on Earth Day but not World Environment Day. A gift to be alerted to this.

  6. A desire to be more familiar with the trees on Mount Carmel campus sent me on a search for a map of their locations, names etc. A generous staff person secured from Russ what I was looking for and brought me 13 pages – 8 1/2 X 11- of maps showing locations of each tree. In addition I also received a list of the 200 trees at Mt. Carmel giving the name and other details of each tree. “A kid in a candy store” can’t begin to describe my delight!! I’ve only assembled these treasures this past week but have since made regular visits to 4 huge, wonderful White Oaks, awesome Douglas Firs and the many Amur Maples. Can you tell I share your love and admiration of these awesome gifts of nature? Yes, let us “Wonder and Act”.

  7. Thanks Nancy for the poem ; the reflections of many others. We owe great thanks to Sister Loyola Rutherford who planted so many of the trees at Mount Carmel.

    Betty, let’s plan a walk so you can point out all the trees that give you such delight.

    PS: I am writing this from the
    Dubuque Arboretum where the thousands of trees are magnificent!

  8. Thanks, Nancy. Each time I look out my bedroom window, there’s a whole forest of trees to admire and enjoy. The first couple of lines in Kilmer’s poem always come to mind. So does a line from Psalms, “O Lord, I love the beauty of your house…” God’s glory indeed dwells in Nature, here and everywhere.

  9. Dear Nancy,
    Thanks so much for your reflection. It reminds me of how important and valuable they are in our Ecuadorian culture. Most of us hug a tree to receive peace, healing, and also to embrace the creation of God. Trees are rooted in the ground and connected to one another. Many things to learn from them. Trees are giving us the best energy from Earth and caring. What do we need to do as part of this nature of the Universal and infinitive presence? Loving in daily activities could be the best.
    Blessings to you.

  10. Thank you Nancy for reminding me of this lovely poem and for your reflections. Just last week 3 of us went for a walk at one of the Google sites in Mt. View, CA. No workers were around so it was a quiet, lovely day. We were surrounded by redwoods and many other trees. At one point I became aware of the roots of multiple trees on 2 sides of us whose roots crisscrossed under the sidewalk and between trees to connect with the trees near them. It reminded me of how nature shows us of the importance of connecting with each other, to share our resources, to keep us rooted when life gets hectic, and to hold each other up when we are weak. And it didn’t matter what kind of tree was next to you. There is so much we can learn from trees, from Mother Nature.

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