My Friend Maple
Since 1980 I have been living and working here on the land of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph. During these years many wonderful trees have befriended me in a way that is totally surprising to me. It was a tree that took the initiative in one of the early years.
In the beginning of May before the leaves had begun to sprout I was making my annual 8 day retreat out at the Old Hermitage. During that particular retreat I felt invited to read and pray with the book of nature rather than with the Scriptures.
Sometime during those deeply nourishing days I was on a trail close to the hermitage admiring a magnificent old maple tree. I felt the tree drawing me to itself and suddenly I was taken up into its strong arms and in a few minutes I was up as far as a person could possibly climb delighting in the view of our 600 acre farm and many kilometers beyond.
Over the years this maple and I have become close friends. Almost yearly, until I had to undergo surgery to replace a worn-out hip I continued to be drawn to my maple perch high above the earth. As the muscles around my titanium hip regained their strength I began to carefully renew my annual climb.
However as I approached my mid-eighties it seemed it was time to reconsider not only for my own sake but the tree itself now also showing signs of ageing. Although this tree is the strong silent type we managed to come to a mutual understanding; we will continue the friendship with occasional visits but with no more climbing.