Sometimes God turns you into a happy robot. At least that’s what I thought when “Saplings for Sacraments” beamed into my brain last fall. By that time, I had served as the deacon at St. Dunstan’s, Bethesda, for almost two years and on the diocesan Creation Care Task Force for ten months. For as long as I could remember, I had loved trees; I was famous for sharing a third of my small place with an enormous fig. God had called me, I was certain, to care for the Earth, given all its beauty and vulnerability. But when and how?
Then, everything came together–as it does when the Creator is up to something. There I was in a church surrounded by trees, next to the Capital Crescent Trail and within the Little Falls Watershed. My rector, the Rev. Patty Alexander, was as moved as I was by the sorry state of the planet. Finally, one day in October, Abbott McCartney of St. John’s, Lafayette Square, invited other members of the task force to attend an international webinar on the brand-new Anglican Communion Forest. I had free time that afternoon, so I attended.
We had four baptisms scheduled for November and December. With help from the Little Falls Watershed Alliance, I got four native-tree saplings for free to give to the newly baptized or their sponsors and printed up tree-care instructions based on my time as a volunteer with Casey Trees. The cedar, magnolia, and maples didn’t look like much; three of them were leafless sticks. But the expression on the teen’s face was priceless when I introduced her to her new green-ish friend. Saplings for Sacraments—one way to grow the worldwide Forest—was born. More trees for other sacraments will follow, God willing.
There are lots of reasons to plant trees and ways to participate in the Communion Forest. See the links above, the “On Planting Trees to Celebrate Special Occasions” resolution of the 2023 Diocesan Convention, and this great list of resources on the diocesan website.
The Rev. Mary Sebold
Deacon, St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church, Bethesda