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Talking Trees

I’ve been trying to broaden my horizon recently when it comes to reading. I’ve tried to read more nonfiction books. In the past the only nonfiction books I’d read were religion-based, but now I’m trying to read more history and science books. One that was recommended to me was “The Hidden Life of Trees”.

This book was a delight to read and taught me multiple things. The one that interested me the most was “mast fruiting”, “masting”, or a “mast year”. I had never heard of it. First of all, mast is the botanical name for the nuts, seeds, buds, or fruits of trees and shrubs that are eaten by wildlife. There are hard mast like nuts and seeds and there are soft mast like berries. Both of these are important food sources for wildlife year-round.

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All trees go through phases of years of bountiful harvest and years with small crops. A “mast year” is a year when the trees just go CRAZY and produce nonstop so much crop that it engulfs the forest floor with nuts and seeds, more than the wildlife can eat. But a mast year isn’t when a single tree has a bumper crop, no, it is when trees up to hundreds of miles around are all synchronized together to over produce.

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The “how” and “why” the trees do this is still a mystery though. The University of California did an 11 year study of 10 separate sites over 434 miles and found that masting occurred in virtually every one of approximately 100 million trees. Temperature, rainfall, and predation may have factored into the amount of crop, however the true reason for this phenomenon is still unknown.

Somehow the trees are communicating and for some reason they are choosing then to over produce. There are a number of different ways that trees communicate. They can pass chemical signals through the air or send signals underground through root or fungal connections. Trees can even take cues from the weather. Whatever form of communication trees use to get the word out, they are very good at it.

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As I read about these amazing trees, I was inspired. I was inspired because these trees are able to communicate over hundreds of miles and all work together for a single purpose. This is SUPPOSED to be one of the things the Catholic Church is good at. “We are all one body…” but sometimes it feels like the two hands of the body are slapping each other and the feet are tripping over themselves. The body does not seem like it is communicating with itself and even if it does, then all of the parts refuse to work together. This is not what God wants for us.

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We need to be more like the trees. We need to work together and communicate, and if we do, we too can bear great fruits. If you’re feeling ambitious, or called to it, go right ahead and attempt worldwide peace and communication in the Church, but for the rest of us, we should probably try something a little smaller.

What needs accomplished at your church that you attend each Sunday? Are you fundraising for a new building or for new supplies? Are you trying to host an event but need help? Do you think your church is lacking something? Is there a group of individuals that could use more help and support?

Okay, do you have something in mind? The trees communicated and worked together to produce fruit. You need to now work on communicating with others the importance of *whatever it was you thought of for your church* and get people all working towards that same goal. How could you communicate better to help build up the church? You can put out information into the bulletin or on the parish website. You can send out mailers. You can make phone calls. The simplest method is to just discuss the goal with your fellow parishioners. Make sure your message is clear so that everyone can spread that same message.

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The Catholic Church has over a billion people worldwide. That’s a lot of people. Unfortunately, most of the time it feels like a billion different individuals all doing their own thing. We can make big (or small) differences when we team up, when we communicate. This year can be a mast year for your church. It can be overflowing with good fruits. The people of the church are waiting, but it takes one person to start that chain of communication. Imagine what good and holy things our churches can do when we communicate with each other and all work together.