Trees are the Lungs of Mother Earth

Jean Francis 

Payback time…

 “A tree is the symbol of the embodiment of life, the point of union of the three realms; heaven, earth and water. Ancient people believed the tree to be infused with an abundance of divine, creative energy”, according to the Rev. Lisa Ward.

According to website, one mature tree can absorb 48lbs of carbon each year.

Trees are the lungs of Mother Earth and help the planet breathe by turning carbon dioxide into clean, pure oxygen, which is necessary for all life. Trees off-set the many harmful emissions that pollute the atmosphere caused by our modern life-style; motor transport, air craft and most surprisingly; the cremation process.

If you have struggled to gasp the next breath or witnessed someone close to you in such deep distress you will understand what I mean. Those of us with respiratory problems know only too well how frightening this can be; with our fragile mortality flashing before us – such an experience is frightening and a real leveller!

On a day-to-day basis we breathe automatically. We inhale and exhale without giving the process a thought, taking it for granted, until the day comes when the next breath doesn’t come. Sadly, this is what most Covid-19 victims will have faced; severe respiratory problems, being admitted into hospital for intensive care to battle this ‘dangerous and potentially fatal’ condition.

Mother Earth no doubt suffers in a similar way, trees are her lungs. Trees process the air absorbing carbon dioxide enabling all humanity to breathe cleaner, fresher air. Every time a tree is felled the likelihood of her gaining the next breath becomes more unlikely. Sadly, many victims of the Covid-19 virus will have struggled to take that next breath and for many it didn’t ever happen.

Trees combat air pollution, which is directly linked to respiratory disease.

According to a new report from Harvard University, areas that had high levels of air pollution before the outbreak of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) are more likely to see patients die from the infection during its spread.

And this is not the first time an epidemic’s worst effects have been linked to high levels of air pollution. The researchers wrote their findings “are consistent with findings that air pollution exposure dramatically increased the risk of death during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, which is caused by another type of coronavirus.”

Since the outbreak began, thousands of cremations have taken place. That equals millions of trees that will need planting to off-set the carbon emissions released into the air from crematorium. Not to mention the huge amount of carbon based fuel consumed by the cremators.

Cleaner, greener air is the most important legacy we can leave for future generations. As we remember the many beautiful souls who lost their lives to Covid-19, it would be hard to find a more lasting and more appropriate memorial than to plant trees or better still a forest in their memory. Such gifts will in time regenerate the lungs of Mother Earth enabling her to sustain all life on this planet with a healthier way of life.

We have the power to change things – it is not too late to take action, but if we leave it much longer and it will be. Now is the time to live our legacy.

Throughout the pandemic direct cremation has been the obvious solution. Families are left feeling empty, deprived of saying a last good bye and in grief without the opportunity of closure. Take heart; there are positive things we can do while still in lockdown. Think about how the life of that special person can be celebrated and remembered. Maybe start to plan a beautiful ceremony that illustrates the connectedness of all life in which a tree or trees can be planted.

In years gone by it was deemed that ‘the land should be kept for the living;’ promoting cremation rather than burial. We now need to take a fresh look at this statement. We must investigate the damage being caused to our planet; being grateful for the way she supports us and in return we must give back in any way we know how. Trees save lives!

For your future information:

To be buried in a natural burial ground: Is to leave a green legacy, a return to nature and if is the most environmentally-friendly choice. Instead of a gravestone, graves are marked with a tree or a wooden plaque, or may sometimes be microchipped with the exact location being officially recorded. Natural burial sites become a beautiful place for loved ones to visit, protected from developers and a haven for wildlife.

Natural burial is growing in popularity as it offers a more environmentally-friendly and natural form of body disposal. Some burial grounds are managed and some unmanaged, varying from woodland to wild flower meadows. Each will have rules regarding the interment and scattering of ashes. Many sites have a building where the service or ceremony can take place and where guests can be entertained following the burial and with no rigid time slots. Direct burial can also apply. To comply with most natural burial grounds the guide lines are as follows:

  • No embalming
  • Dress the deceased in natural fabrics
  • Choose a bio-degradable coffin
  • Choose locally grown or garden flowers
  • Plant trees to help off-set carbon footprints.

Should cremation be your choice, there are measures you can take to help offset your carbon footprint:

Cremating a body, in spite of strict government legislation, causes harmful carcinogenic emissions that pollute the atmosphere. These emissions include mercury from amalgam tooth fillings, dioxins, from the plastics and glues in and on conventional coffins, carbon dioxide furans, and other nasty toxic compounds being released into the atmosphere. Not to mention the enormous amount of carbon based fuels involved in the cremation process.

Should you choose to be cremated, or have no choice in the matter, as we are seeing during Covid-19, there are steps you can take to create a more eco-friendly experience:

  • Insist on no embalming (other than in extreme circumstances) Embalming fluids are extremely toxic and damaging to the environment.
  • Check that the coffin you choose does not contain toxic glues. Better still choose one made from natural materials, there are many choices available. Always, refuse coffins with gold coloured plastic handles.
  • Dress or wrap the deceased in clothes/cloth made of natural material, certainly no synthetics.
  • Choose flowers from your garden or grown locally instead of imported blooms with a big carbon footprint (avoid plastic wreath frames and cellophane)
  • Plant a tree, or better still, a woodland.

During the pandemic direct cremation of the bodies of loved ones has been the obvious solution. Left feeling empty and deprived of saying a last good bye, families grieve without the opportunity of closure. Take heart; there are positive things we can do while still in lockdown. Think about how the life of that special person can be celebrated and remembered. Start to plan a beautiful ceremony in which a tree or trees can be planted; a ceremony that illustrates the interconnectedness of all life. When people gather together with conscious intention a shift happens.

Many people have found themselves only able to attend the funeral of a loved one virtually. This could be the perfect opportunity to start planning a beautiful memorial ceremony that celebrates the life of someone special, to take place when lockdown is lifted. Ceremonies can include the scattering or burial of cremated ashes and can take place at home, in the garden, a woodland glade, if fact the sky’s the limit

For those who follow a particular faith path, a service will undoubtedly have a set pattern that usually includes ancient readings and rituals led by their own faith leader. There are no rules when creating such an occasion, other than that the intention be created with honesty and love.  Anyone can create and deliver a ceremony. Should you be close to the person whose life is being celebrated, this could prove to be a deeply emotional undertaking but a great expression of love. You may already have contact with a celebrant or minister in your area; alternatively there is help at hand. Download Ashes and Memorials, 60+ ways to be remembered by Jean Francis:

As OneSpirit Interfaith ministers/celebrants and spiritual counsellors, we support people of all faiths or none, specialising in the creation of heart-centred and healing ceremonies. Having worked for many years as a party/wedding planner and caterer, funeral arranger, trained to become a OneSpirit Interfaith minister/celebrant and now Chair and Creative Director of Last Wishes World. I feel qualified, to guide you gently through the numerous options available, as are my many OneSpirit colleagues who specialise in the creation of ceremony. Find a minister/celebrant in your area:

Ancient and Sacred Trees was founded in 2014 by our Last Wishes Education Director Amanda C Vesty. It celebrates our ancient and sacred connections with trees as well as promoting their protection. AST has over 50,000 members, the majority of whom are in the UK. AST is free to join with a Good Newsletter and more, but is now also offering tree planting at an affordable price.

Planting trees starts at just £5 for 10 trees with an e CerTreeficate™.

You can buy a members’ badge or an organic T-shirt (plants 20 trees) as well as sign up for paid membership to plant trees on your behalf each month.

There is also a memorial package for trees to be planted, with a certificate and online memorial in honour of your loved ones so they can leave behind a positive environmental legacy.

Next week, ‘The Healing Power of Ceremony’