Magazine article Anglican Journal

Failing to Care for the Gift of Creation Is Blind Selfishness

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Failing to Care for the Gift of Creation Is Blind Selfishness

Article excerpt

`What's in a neem?'

In Uganda earlier this year I was delighted to be asked to plant a tree in the archbishop's new garden. For one thing, the Primate of All Ireland had planted a tree the same day, and for another, few things are as simple, life-giving and satisfying as planting a tree.

This particular tree was chosen because it grows quickly, and provides excellent shelter from the sun. I recognized a similar principle from the time we planted poplars as a windbreak in our prairie backyard.

But this tree is much more than that.

It is called the neem tree and its uses are extraordinarily varied. The bark yields strong fibre for rope; oil from the seeds is used in producing soap; and the seeds themselves when crushed and made into paste make an insecticide; the roots kill roundworms; the flowers attract bees and produce a rich honey; the dried leaves protect books and clothing against silverfish and moths; the twigs are good for cleaning teeth; the timber is valuable for termiteresistant fence poles. And more.

It rather reminded me of a Flanders and Swann song about the "wompom," a mythical plant good for anything and everything.

In an equatorial country where posts and sticks will sprout and grow, such remarkable richness in creation seems hardly surprising.

But people still need to be encouraged to plant trees there, even in the midst of what might seem profusion and plenty.

Why? For the same reason we should plant more trees than we do. Because trees are being cut faster than they are growing. …

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