A testament to the sacredness of nature and how it offers hope for humanity.
Barrow (co-author: Linking Conservation to Poverty Reduction, 2008) notes that he has been enamored with nature, and specifically trees, since his 1950s boyhood on a farm in Ireland. He recalls that when he was just 6, he’d planted more than 300 chestnut trees, each of which is now more than 60 years old. His zest for reconnecting with nature is one that he shares with many other authors, but in this book, he explores refreshing new territory with his arboreal focus. Barrow says that embracing the sacredness of nature, and specifically trees and groves, is crucial to avoiding an impending ecological apocalypse. He puts forth two simple tenets—that nature is sacred, and that humans are part of nature—and says that it logically follows that “What we do to nature, we do to ourselves.” Concomitant with the climate crisis, he notes, have come other, escalating global conflicts. However, he presents the idea that reverence for trees fosters a sense of harmony, and with that comes cultural diversity, interpersonal connection, mental and physical health, inclusiveness, and nonviolence. He also points out that sacred trees and groves have long been part of religious and spiritual practices, and the book goes on to take readers on a global tour of trees and groves in the Far East, Europe, and Africa. Beyond ecology, this book addresses a range of topics that will interest many readers, among them faith, history, mythology, science, philosophy, spiritualism, and materialism. It’s also meticulously researched and documented with 782 annotations and a 48-page bibliography. Indeed, this scholarly work is so informative and comprehensive that it could easily serve as a textbook in an environmental studies program. Yet the reading never gets tedious, as Barrow continually sprinkles in intriguing asides, such as the fact that the Bible contains more than 525 references to trees. Despite his detailed scholarship, however, there’s nothing dispassionate about his message—that a reverence for nature will provide a way forward for humankind.
A treasure trove of information for ecologically and spiritually minded readers.