Immanuel's Tree Map

In her book Between Earth & Sky: Our Intimate Connection to Trees, Nalini Nadkarni explores the literal and spiritual connections humans have with trees. Nadkarni should know: as a forest ecologist, this so-called “queen of canopy research” has climbed trees in the Pacific Northwest, Costa Rica, the Amazon, and Papua New Guinea. When she speaks at churches and synagogues around the country, she emphasizes that trees and forests are mentioned in scripture over 300 times. 
 
Once while she was preaching, Nadkarni noticed a disheveled, elderly blind man in the congregation who appeared to be homeless. At the conclusion of her message about the importance of trees, the man stood up and made a practical and theological application: “When it is raining and I stand under a tree, I stay drier and warmer than when I am out in the open. Trees protect me. Sort of like God.”*
 
Nadkarni encourages faith-based communities to create tree maps of their property to deepen their appreciation for the trees that surround them. During the summer he spent working as an intern at the National Geographic Society, Chaney Swiney heard Nadkarni speak at the annual Explorers Symposium. After sharing her story with me, I asked him if he would be willing to create a tree map for Immanuel, since we are blessed with property that is richly ornamented with trees. The fruit of his labor is now hanging on the wall outside of the prayer room near the Honeywood entrance. The map identifies 117 trees on our property and 21 species. Although this is not an exhaustive list, the abundance of trees is evident. 
 
In addition to the framed version of the tree map, smaller laminated copies are available for use by classes, groups, families, and individuals to use if they want to explore the property. As we deepen our knowledge of the trees that surround us, perhaps we will deepen our understanding of the Creator who makes them (and us) grow. “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).
 
- Pastor Tambi
 
*Nalini M. Nadkarni, “Ecological outreach to faith-based communities,” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, August 1, 2007.