“Big Leaf” Gets a Blessing

I named a palm tree (Big Leaf), and have spoken to it on more than one occasion.  Wait!  Please, wait!  Don’t send for the “nice men” quite yet!  Please, read this posting before you make the call.

Big Leaf

This “insanity” all happened one Wednesday morning while on vacation in Mazatlan, Mexico’s Emerald Bay resort.  I had finished an abbreviated Matins (Orthos) on the balcony overlooking a gorgeous infinity pool and the Pacific Ocean.  I then began reading Psalm 84 (LXX 83).  There was a steady breeze off the ocean which moved a broad, tough leaf of a palm tree  between the spokes of the balcony’s railing.  The large leaf was moved to the left, to the right, but always paused in a middle position in front of me before the back and forth motion resumed.  I read this, “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God (Ps 84: 3)”  I thought of God’s care and love for all of his creation, and that as Christians we are to care for, and bring dignity and blessing to every creature.

The breeze continue to move the palm tree’s leaf in the same repetitive motion:  to the left, to the right, but always pausing in the center.  Them movement reminded me of the behavior of one of my dog’s when wanting some attention from me.  I touched the giant leaf and held it between my hands as if it were the head of a dog.  I then spoke to it of its beauty and strength, and then thanked it for being here with me.  I blessed it making the sign of the cross on it.

That was a wonderful moment with one of God’s creatures.  Now, I know that the tree does not have a consciousness as we and other animals have a consciousness, but it has its own appropriate existence as a tree.  Further, it does not need me to “authenticate” its existence.  Perhaps the opposite is true.  To be a more authentic human being I need the tree.  I need the dog, the sparrow, the rose, the bee, etc.  I need them to see my place as a Christian, a redeemed human, within the greater context of creation.  As such, I am to see creation with new eyes.  I am to observe the creature not to exploit it for gain, but that I might act to bless it, and to give thanks for it.

We are all to cultivate creation.  At this beautiful resort the landscaping staff is continually at work to maintain both the beauty and health of the trees and plants.  In like manner we are to move through creation as though moving through a liturgy for its blessing.  By such a purposeful movement through, among, and in relationship with every creature, every creature is blessed.  By so blessing we as Christians, as priests of God, become more full and complete, and we gentle our condition before God and humanity.

We have the saying, “Stop and smell the roses!”  To this I would add, “Stop and smell, and touch, and bless the roses, and the dogs, and the birds, and even the palm trees!”

In Christ,

Fr. Irenaeus

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