WILD WORDS by Margaret Moreton.
Words are not always spoken – they are there to formulate our thoughts and afford them expression. To me, many of the most expressive come from the wild; from the natural; from the unfettered and the uncultivated. They are there, expressing beauty, docility, strength, continuity, freedom and much more.
I look in my little garden patch and see the yellowing leaves of my plum tree. They say to me “We have fulfilled our purpose – we have collected water; we have sheltered fruits from wind; we have added grace to your tree and now our work is nearly done – except that we will fall to earth, decay and feed your tree for next year.” Continuity is assured. And then, I look over the wall to a holly tree, growing wild, where nature planted it and is giving so much. He has a message to my young plum tree. “You take a rest now – me? I have my busiest time of year ahead -1 nurture my fruits now and they, in turn, nurture so many bird friends. More, I give a haven to those friends on cold, icy, wind-swept days as they hunch among my closely-packed branches and shelter until better times.” The holly can be decorative too and in much demand at Christmas-tide to decorate our homes and churches. In the latter, it surely represents immortality and its evergreen quality makes it invulnerable to the passage of time.
‘Anchorage’ ‘support’ ‘quiet advancement’ are all words which come to me – from the wild – when I think seriously of the ivy and how it symbolises those words. And then I think of the carol of the holly and the ivy, and marvel at how the Christian faith has dwelt upon and used this combination from Pagan times, where the holly and the ivy represented the male and female elements of life. It underlines how intrinsic is nature to our beliefs and customs, and indeed our very needs.
The natural world – the wild – comes up with the sense of freedom and the image of beauty in strength. Again, I look to the trees and think of the oak or the yew. The word ‘oak’ is synonymous with strength and indestructibility. Reflect upon its uses in today’s world as divorced as breakwaters on our beaches and as casks maturing our wines. All this with rich, under-stated beauty in its grain. Nature, in her wildness, has given us much.
In my life I need beauty; beauty of form; beauty of nature and indeed, beauty of expression. I can find these facets in so much of the wild and natural. And I look so often to the plethora of trees to afford me the fulfilment of these needs. The sight of silver birch foliage, caught in the wind is very special – it tells me that nature unfolds beauty in the humblest of habitats and the most normal of circumstances – and my heart gives thanks. Look to the weeping willow for sheer grace and beauty of conformation, with the elegant sweep of its long, flowing branches in a gentle breeze. I see beauty in nature given to us, uncultivated as it is, in the glorious mahogany of the copper beech tree. There is real majesty in its vibrant, arrestingly rich colour. And then, the modest familiar apple tree expresses much; there is promise in the oh-so-delicate, yet strong, blossom. The fulfilment comes, expressed in the rounded bloom of the ripe fruit. In the gift of such a universally popular blossom and fruit, there is care expressed; there is practicality expressed and there is popularity expressed.
We are but one species of God’s world – given to learn and be learnt from. If we respect the wild and accord it its place, then we may enjoy it and be helped and favoured by its presence.
Photo – King’s Park, Retford, by K P Murphy