the branches of a tree of life

On a recent walk, I noticed how the shadows of the winter branches cast their patterns on the grass beneath them during the high-noon sunlight and its high definition.  How we look at such branches or their shadows has so much to do with our outlook on life.  Is this a dead tree?  Is this a winter tree?  A pre-spring tree? Is this menacing or hopeful?  I suppose it’s a glass-half-full-or-half-empty thing really.

As we begin to design the new planned giving wall in Memorial Hall, we are grateful of the recent version as well.  Many people worked hard and spent money to make and hang the brass plaques we once had lining those walls, but the wonderful reality of new and potential planned giving donors means we needed lots and lots more space.  We needed something we could change easily, quickly and inexpensively; and we wanted something colorful and beautiful – something alive, bright and playful.

So we are creating a massive shadow box which opens, and into which large, caligraphied posters will hang indicating all those who have remembered Saint John’s in their wills in one way or another.  The posters will be bordered with an illumination by a local calligrapher – something just like the illuminations in the Saint John’s Bible and informed by flowers, animals and moments in our cathedral’s history bordering its top and sides – full of color and whimsy. And it will all be donated.

We will all die.  None of us can take our money or possessions with us when we die.  But we can join the many hundreds of people who left their mark on our cathedral by their philanthropy.

I do not see death as menacing at all.  Leafless branches still offer shadow in the heat of the day.

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