By Sr. Marisa Revert Font, CCVI
After a storm this summer we were sad to find out that the Cedar of Lebanon that adorns the walled garden at Carrigoran House, Ireland, had lost one of its main branches. The huge branch was lying down on the ground. It had almost knocked down a nearby younger tree. This particular tree is believed to be 270 years old or more. It was there long before the property was purchased by the Congregation. It is enjoyed by all the residents and staff that walk the gardens of Carrigoran.
After the branch fell you could see a big wound on the trunk of the tree. A few days after this incident Sr. Kevina Keating, Congregational Leader, asked us to join the Church in praying for the people of Lebanon after the major disaster that occurred in Beirut’s harbor and the violent unrest that followed. That open wound reminded me of the pain of the people of Lebanon. We were all sad here in Carrigoran to see
the branch fall but our sadness could not compare to the suffering the people of Lebanon were going through.
The Cedar of Lebanon is mentioned a few times in the Bible: “The just man shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.” New American Bible: (Psalm 92:13).
The Cedar of Lebanon can grow up to 120 feet tall (imagine a 10 – to 12-story building). It is evergreen. Its branches are wide-spreading, and go straight out horizontally 30 to 50 feet from the trunk. Because of all of these and its majestic appearance it was known in biblical times as “the king of trees.”
The Hebrew word for cedar comes from a root word meaning firm. It is known for the “firmness of roots” (Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon). The adjective form of the word for cedar means firm, strong. The cedars of Lebanon are known to cast down their roots as deeply as is their height upwards.
Gesenius’ Lexicon continues: “Its wood is odoriferous, without knots, and not liable to decay; used therefore for building and adorning the temple and royal palaces.” The cedar trees provided the best material for a strong and beautiful temple. Cedar wood is not consumed by worms or time.
These qualities explain the sparseness of these trees today. Because of their magnificent building properties, the majority of these precious trees have been cut down.
So this beautiful wounded tree gives me a lot to think about and ponder as I walk the gardens in the evenings. It continues to remind me of the people of Lebanon and all suffering people, including our residents. Our residents are not quite as old as this tree, but as beautiful and strong as one day they may have been, they are now facing different losses. It calls me to continue to root my life in the soil of Life, the Spirit of God. It challenges me to build up those who are in sorrow. Its wound also reminds me of the need to care for myself as I care for others. It reminds me I am a wounded healer. Unless I want to “fall apart” I need to take care of all my branches, my relationships with God, others, and with Nature. Now I have a new wounded friend my dear Irish Cedar of Lebanon.