Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

by Nadia Ramoutar      MMM Communications Coordinator             Ireland                     29.01.2023

Recently, the much respected Benedictine Sr Mary Lou Kownacki died after a long struggle with cancer. She was a major influence on Benedictine Sr Joan Chittister’s work. Sr Joan is a major influence on someone I consider to be a mentor, Sr Sheila Campbell, MMM. If we were to do a survey, I would find several younger women who consider me to be a mentor. It’s as if women mentor one another much like the trees do in the forest do. Let me branch out here and connect this thought for you. (Pun intended!)

Last summer, I was fortunate to visit a friend, Amy in Scotland who considers me a mentor to her especially in her work around inspiring and empowering young women and girls in Glasgow. I also learn a lot from her, and I feel the rapport is very symbiotic as they best relationships tend to be. We spend many hours strategizing ways to do more meaningful activities as there is so much to do in the world with so few resources for those who need it most. A lot of my work revolves around making life better for young women in Africa and Brazil through the MMM missions there.

As I seek answers to challenges in my work, I find that walks in nature really help me expand my thinking. I learn a lot from my time in nature about improving systems and making organic strategies that make life better for all involved. Taking time to connect with nature helps me grow as a person. I have a huge interest not just in trees, but in the way trees live in community, much like our MMM sisters do.

When in Scotland, I fortunately went to Ardkinglas Woodland Garden which is the stunning home to an arboretum with Champion Trees. These are some of the largest and healthiest trees in Europe. While there I read about how the trees connect in an underground network in which the older trees are sometimes referred to as the “Mother Trees” and will provide via mycorrhizae fungi, a complex web of connections. Resources are shared with younger or less healthy trees this way. The trees are able to even identify when neighbours may need to fend off an attack. Research shows the trees may be able to adjust the temperature around themselves too. Much more research is being done but what is clear is that the older, wiser and stronger Mother Trees play a crucial and harmonious role in the wellbeing of the entire forest all completely invisibly to the human eye.

We can learn a lot from the intelligence of nature. It seems as if we experience some challenges when we get away from an organic model of growth. We can all work together to help one another and be an essential part of the transference of nurturing, care and resources to those in need without any harm to our own wellbeing. We have not only an obligation, but an ability to make life better and easier for those who are younger or more fragile. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the many women who have mentored me over the years and now armed me with the skills to mentor a new generation of leaders.

Perhaps by stepping back we can finally see the forest for the trees.