Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 3rd March 2024

Dear Friends, In a time when humanity seems hell bent on destroying our only home it is important to hold on to signs of hope.Suzanne Simard, the daughter of Canadian Message from the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (PaCET) for Sunday Meeting 3rd March 2024

Dear Friends,

In a time when humanity seems hell bent on destroying our only home it is important to hold on to signs of hope.Suzanne Simard, the daughter of Canadian loggers and foresters, first talked about the symbiotic link between trees and fungi in her PhD in the 1980’s.  She had observed that fungi and roots facilitate interaction between trees and plants.  She was ridiculed by the scientific community and spent most of her life working for the Ministry of Forests. Now her understanding has become widely accepted, commonly talked about in nature programmes and provides the ideas for Hollywood films such as Avatar.In her book Finding the Mother Tree she goes further.  She says that trees co-operate, help each other in tough times, look after young and vulnerable saplings and talk to each other about the threats they face.  She also suggests that there are mother trees in forest communities.  These large trees act as central hubs for mycorrhizal below ground networks that support seedlings by infecting them with fungi and supplying them with the nutrients they need.  Her thinking up-ends the Darwinian mantra of survival of the fittest and the selfish gene.Amazingly it turns out that strong trees help the weakest.  It’s a myth that the bigger trees that grow fastest and reach the light will drown out the smaller and weaker varieties.  Mother trees even help trees of other species and change their root structure to make room for babies.  And she has shown that when all these beneficial communications between trees and fungi are undisturbed a forest is at its most healthy.What a metaphor for how we might organise our human society! Learning from trees perhaps we should abandon our adherence to the principal of survival of the fittest, our unstoppable commitment to taking all we can from the planet without giving anything back and our seemingly unshakeable conviction that we through our mastery of technology know all there is to know and can conquer all. We can learn from forests and look after the more vulnerable, listen to others who are in difficulty and be aware of the needs of those who are different from us.  Above all, perhaps, we should accept that we are all dependent on each other.As Suzanne Simard says it is not about how we should save the trees.  It is about how the trees might save us.In Friendship John Pareson behalf of the Pastoral Care and Eldership Team (David Hitchin, Chris Lawson, Tim Pitt-Payne, Caroline Pybus, Theresa Samms and Nancy Wall)