As the trees breath they take in our breath and as we breath we take in theirs. Each time a tree is planted it immediately begins to serve all that is living with the kindness of its breath.When the young are inspired to plant trees they are inspired to serve all that is alive.
COMMENTS ABOUT OUR WORK
From a Facebook friend Melanie Mathis that really grasps the essence of our vision:
December 29, 2010 at 2:51am I visited your website and am inspired. I have traveled to many places and am always struck by the destruction done by our hands and our minds. I find people are so apt at spotting each other's differences, but fail to see the one true connection we all have - humanity. I don't understand - it is harder to hate someone - but I find people hate according to the most trivial things - color, flag, borders...But if they would come to realize we have the most important thing in common - the hope for a better future for our children. Every mother and father, whatever the color, religion, race, nationality, all have dreams for our children. How unfortunate we can not unite to help create a better future for our children. I am inspired that you saw something so tragic and asked the right question, "What would healing look like?" I have always asked the questions, "Why?" and "What can we do?" But I think your question is better because if we can visualize it, then the 'what we can do' answers itself. And the 'why' is not important - it only goes to lay blame and points fingers and is not productive at all. Thank you, for inspiring me to find the right question.
Belvie Rooks and Dedan Gills are modern bearers of the Buddha's teaching - "hatred never ceases by hatred; hatred ceases by love." To take the tragedies of our life and turn them into healing medicine -- this is the mark of spiritual truth and social liberation. Their message of planting trees in W. Africa as a corridor of healing and eco-upliftment created an effect on our campus that is still alive months later. The audience included a wide range of people from the local community, faculty, students, secretaries, administrators, counselors. Each of us was moved to consider what particular tragedy in our own life or our group's history could be viewed anew through Belvie and Dedan's question, "What would healing look like?" One gentleman in the audience had lost family members in the Holocaust. Another was a Vietnam veteran. Another was a young woman who had been raped. All of us in our own way felt changed by the presentation. Belvie and Dedan helped us see that we often can't control what happens, but we do hold the power of our own response. It's a tall order to respond to hatred with love, but Belvie and Dedan make it seem more possible than ever before. --- Dr. Fran Grace, Professor of REligious Studies, Univ. of Redlands, CA
I heard them tell the story of the unnamed men, women and children of Africa as they journeyed into the slave dungeon on the Cape Coast of Ghana. As they spoke of the horrors those souls must have encountered, the pictures of the dungeon, and their vivid, emotional commentary left you with a visceral sadness. Belvie and Dedan used this as a thread to guide your humanity in remembrance of not just this one group of people, but the inhumane treatment of all oppressed people. Through their pictures, words and poetry, one couldn’t help but think of their own personal history of unjust treatment. The story of the slave trade was the thread which held stories together of many oppressed groups of people all over the world. To hear someone offer the idea of the planting of trees as “Healing the wounds of the past—in the present—while creating a sustainable future” was a tangible path to forgiveness and peace. I think we all felt changed in our anger about the past and it was restorative to think of the planting of a tree as a way to find forgiveness and hope by creating a more sustainable future. Belvie and Dedan are remarkable people and I feel privileged to have heard them speak. I know that many of us felt changed by them in some indefinable way. It may have been that we all felt some measure of hope in finding our ability to forgive the wrongs of the past through the simple act of planting a tree.
Denise Spencer, Secretary for Race and Ethnic Studies, Women's Studies, and The Meditation Room.
I was deeply moved by the talk given by Belvie and Dedan. One of the many inspiring aspects of their talk , to me is that they not only acknowledged the despair, but then provided a way to move from the despair to a place of hope. Many people get stuck in the pain of a terrible event and do not know how to move out of it. Belvie and Dedan revealed that healing is possible when you have the courage to be loving in the midst of the pain. I was most moved by the unconditional love they showed for all of humanity. I went home that night with the feeling that I remembered my purpose in life- to just love and love and love. Dedan and Belvie took something sorrowful and turned it into something beautiful. Their talk can speak to all of us on a personal or a worldly level. I feel very grateful to have been given the opportunity to hear about their movement.
Brianna Wetteland, senior student, Religious Studies
REFLECTIONS By Dedan Gills
Part of what kept us centered throughout this beautiful, tumultuous and sometimes painful journey was that we sometimes had to remind ourselves that our story did not begin in those horrid and musty dungeons, but that our journey started billions of years ago in the darkness of timeless space and that like the particles of ancient stardust that pulsates through our body we have paused for but a moment in slavery’s path and despite all odds, predictions and expectations, we as descendants of the “The Tribe Of The Middle Passage", with all of it’s pain and suffering, continue to travel the sacred journey “dreaming of new possibilities” and new ways of BECOMING TOGETHER. I realized the suffering and the slave trade was only part of our story, one night while looking up at the magnificent pitch black equatorial African sky in which the stars seemed surprisingly close…their brightness invited me to remember the greater story of our common journey and our common ancestry.
The Trees Like distant cries from ancient ancestors across the misty shadows of time, the trees beckon, as they sway dance in the silence of the morning sun, gusts of toxic wind set twirling the wail of ghostly voices in the leaves sending rustling whispers of dreams not yet born, and calls for new purpose, healing, hope, destiny and truth.
El Mina (The Slave Mine) By Dedan Gills
The Wisdom of Ancient Winds Howl the rage of long-forgotten bones crusting the gloom of the magnificent embrace of the salted ocean floor
The old castle/dungeon stands gleaming white in tropic sun as if proud of its gory past Testifying truth to lies whispered in the shadows of unholy testimony that knows only deception disguised as truth
80 million moans of unheard tears weep the coast from sea to shinning sea they captured those who dared to be and burned the symbol of the universe from the beauty of their spiraled hair and stole their very soul But in their seeds contained unborn dreams rising from the sea like mighty waves, crashing, defiant, against the stoic rocks of time...relentless waves of determined souls bent on breaking Elmina's chains.
The Living Waters (for Dwight Trible) by Kamau Daaood
the living waters upon the lips
at the center of the concept is life…..
if the earth had breasts they could be here
if the world had a womb it could be here
in this place of beginnings
the idea of race is a misnomer
the world is One divided into many
the breath and the landscape of possibilities
the cleansing thought of circles
our seamless existence, causes and effect
the blindness of bad thinking, dressed in a suit of dogma
it is thought that makes things ugly
an evil twist of nature,
a false belief that drive the hands to act upon the earth improper
a stray note in a song
in a perfect moment we could be one
the richness in this moment, more than drums and sunkissed skin
more than flag waving, staking claims
a family regrouping for joy of the planet
a school of perfecting the soul,
where spirits learn the words to the human song
heartbeating as common music
the breath and the land that connect us
excuses are the links to our chains
we could dance
on a dirt floor of color and splendor
each fingerprint makes its contribution
if the earth had breasts they could be here
the world’s children nourished from wisdom of oneness