Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Prayer Tree

 “Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden.” (Genesis 2:9, NRSV)  

At a school where I was chaplain, two prayer trees were established to provide sacred space when there was no permanent place, such as a chapel. Both these trees were planted within areas that were surrounded by hedges to provide some demarcation from play or other space.

The idea of the trees was to provide students a place where they could experience stillness and if they desired to tie their prayers to the branches of the prayer tree.

Throughout the school year, for particular milestones or even tragedies the prayer tree would act as a place where students could place their prayers, hopes and dreams.

Often it would be classroom teachers who would stimulate students to write a prayer and as a group they would go to the tree to hang it. As needed the chaplains would use the trees for individual students who needed strength or courage or just to say something to God.

There are many different ways to pray and tying a prayer to a prayer tree helps those who  prefer to have a visible sign, something tangible. This can be very helpful for younger students.

One of the wonderful things about the prayer trees at this school is that they are Golden Pendas which usually flower around Easter Time with bright yellow blossoms.

   “through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." (Revelation 22:2 NRSV)