Christ is Risen – Alleluia! Planting trees is a sign of hope at Walsingham House at Abbotswick
In the midst of lockdown, fresh hope! A 40 metre square patch of woodland has been planted at Walsingham House at Abbotswick. A grant of 105 trees from The Woodland Trust (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk) made this possible, and in the weeks before Holy Week the handful of staff and volunteers that remain at Walsingham House took time to plant the trees, sowing a legacy for the decades ahead.
Walsingham House at Abbotswick is blessed with beautiful grounds, and the messages about care for the environment in Pope Francis’ Encyclical “LaudatoSi” infuse the retreats offered for young people from schools and parishes across Brentwood Diocese who, in more usual times, visit the House in their thousands every year. In isolation the Pope’s letter is a great read, by the way! The full text is here: Pope Francis Laudato Si
“We had originally planned to involve many volunteers in the tree planting” said Joe Beattie, the Walsingham House Co-ordinator, “but when that was no longer possible because of the lockdown, we got on with it ourselves. It took a couple of days, as we planted each little sapling with care, and with protection from the deer and rabbits that are also a feature of our garden!”
Together with Fr Dominic, Joe marked out where the trees were to be planted – “The Woodland Trust encouraged us not to plant the trees in straight lines,” said Fr Dominic, “and so we have done our best to create a more natural woodland effect – I suppose we will know if this has worked in about ten years’ time!”
Planting the trees also lifted the spirits of those involved – at a time when much of the news is filled with the sadness of illness and death, the trees are a sign of present and future hope – the hope inspired by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate today. Indeed, on Easter morning the Risen Jesus is mistaken for the gardener! There are many and deep links between nurturing God’s creation and sustaining our faith.
The trees are planted near to the beehives which are in the grounds, and should provide a great source of pollen for the bees in years to come. They will increase the biodiversity in the grounds, sustain wildlife, insects and beetles, and help the planet for the next generation – the very people who will come on retreat to Walsingham House in the years to come!
When it is once again possible to move around freely, visitors are always warmly welcome at Walsingham House at Abbotswick – and in the future the new patch of woodland will add to the many wonderful and varied places within the grounds that are peaceful places to contemplate the wonders of God’s creation, to pray and to reflect. Everyone is welcome!