The Memorial Tree Pilgrimage: A Walking Tour of the Agape Story
by Dave Perkins
Over the past 20 years, members of the Agape Community have planted thirteen trees at the edge of the woods or in the circle in front of St. Francis House. Each tree memorializes a particularly poignant moment in the life of the community. During the early stages of planning for the 30th Annual Francis Day, a walking tour of the trees surfaced as a way to experience the Agape story. We created a plaque and mapped the location of each tree. Like magicians waving wands, suddenly, we unveiled a tapestry woven from a rich history.
On October 5th , we provided maps for St.Francis Day participants to contemplate the significance of each living memorial—the suffering of people of color, the evils of Islamophobia, the oppression of the Palestinian people, living and deceased members of Veterans for Peace. Each dedication has shaped the landscape of a community devoted to the care of the Earth and all of her creatures.
Each tree has grown to take its place in the forest. Mission Council member Jim Robinson commented on the tree pilgrimage: “It displays Agape’s rootedness in a wider web of people and communities committed to eco-social transformation.” The trees themselves call forth from “The great Cloud of Witnesses–Dave Dellinger, Wally and Juanita Nelson, the Berrigan brothers” and diverse ethnic and oppressed groups, that “continue to influence, inspire, and bear good fruit at Agape.”
The next time you visit Agape, ask for the self-guided Way of the Trees map. Then, appreciate the significance of each tree so that its living, breathing tree reality opens you to a truth the rising of Native Americans as leaders in the environmental movement, our mutual responsibility for ending racism and war, and to be loving stewards of our ravaged earth.
Breathe in deeply a spirit of solidarity with all creation and be filled with hope and courage as we face the challenges of our present moment rooted in the earth.
Dave is a member of Agape’s Mission Council, who brings to Agape his many gifts, and with them, his wife, Katie and children, Hannah and Grace.