Tree of Life: Symbol and Reality by Mary Curtis Ratcliff



There really is a Tree of Life, nourishing and healing two-legged and four-legged creatures alike with edible and highly nutritious leaves, blossoms, twigs, and seeds. The Moringa tree, native to arid parts of Africa and India, is probably the source of all “Tree of Life” legends promising physical and mental health – signs of inner strength in all that we do – as well as providing shelter.

Most important, the Tree of Life reminds us that we can co-exist peacefully.

The Tree of Life appears in art, literature, and religion, signifying  interconnectedness within our universe to everything and everyone around us.  It is present in many cultures, known by many names.

The individual leaves depicted on Tree of Life images represent the uniqueness of all earthly creations.  Like the leaves on a tree, we come in different shapes, colors, and textures.  Branches reaching out represent our human need for expression and exploration (the arts, science, spirituality, and compassionate action). A sturdy trunk and roots anchor images of the Tree of Life, symbols of strength and reminders of our origins.

Exhibition of Tree of Life: Symbol and Reality

January 19, 2021- March 1, 2021

"Meditation on Trees" by Mary Curtis Ratcliff 

What is it about trees that makes me want to hang out with them, photograph them, and make them subjects of so many artworks?

I grew up walking through the woods in Michigan.  Sometimes it was with my brother, other times alone or with my mother who was an avid birdwatcher.

Being surrounded by trees always gives me a feeling of calm and induces a meditative state.  I’ve always known that each tree has a spirit and is home to thousands of birds and insects and fungi. They act as a highway for squirrels, who are able to leap from branch to branch – “Squirrel TV,” as my brother and I used to call it as we watched them from the sleeping porch in our grandfather’s cottage on Lake Michigan.

These gentle giants that change with the seasons are reliable in the sense that they are always there in the same spot when you return, with or without leaves.  And as majestic and individually articulated as they are above ground—sculpted by forces of wind, sun and shadow—we know we are seeing only the half of it, as each tree’s roots are equally as large underground, an invisible community that communicates with other species.  As they inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, trees are centered, contemplative, and connected with everything around them.

Feel free to sit down, observe the kinetic sculptures and the Healing Circle Artworks video, meditate, listen to the healing music. (by appointment only for kinetic sculptures observation)

There is magic in the trees.

Mary Curtis Ratcliff, December 2020