7/8 February 2020, 12/13 Shvat 5780

“But isn’t that how evolution works? you ask. The survival of the fittest? Trees would just shake their heads—or rather their crowns. Their well-being depends on their community, and when the supposedly feeble trees disappear, the others lose as well.” from The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben 

This week we mark Tu B’Shevat. At times I do recognise that these obscure days in our calendar feel irrelevant, even dispensible. This is a day devoted to agriculturists marking the age of trees which, of course, were so vital to everyone. But actually this is now a day to focus on the enduring power of trees; not just eating fruit, talking ecology or the symbolism of these plants But rather just the beauty and glory of trees: how they look, behave and produce.

That’s what Tu B’Shevat will be for us. 16th Shevat will be marked this coming Shabbat after the service with a seder that celebrates trees. Megan Greene and I with copious community members will (we hope) mark this together. We have a tree surgeon, Joe, plates of local tree produce (apples, pears, nuts etc) and will be bringing some blessings and memories of the power of trees.

It feels an appropriate  response to good mental health, after last week’s Mental Heath Awareness Shabbat.  As Nachman of Bratslav memorably wrote: “May it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass – among all growing things – and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, to talk with the One to whom I belong.”

Wishing you zesty and refreshing Shabbat