A liturgy for grieving




A Liturgy for Grieving, Planting and Fruitfulness

This is a very personal liturgy which I wrote for the planting of a cherry tree on the Kingsmead estate in Hackney. This is very near our house in Homerton and a place where we have both worked with church and community. We planted it to remember our inability to have children, as we gathered with family and friends on a gloriously sunny but bittersweet day.


We gather here to remember, to grieve, to believe, to hope and... to plant a tree
We remember London in all its bustling brightness, in all its noisy anger, in all its bristling diversity, a place of many births and a place of constant change
We remember that it has been home and workplace and landscape and the place where the love of James and Lucyann grew, blossomed and bore fruit and where they lived together the rhythm of birth
And we remember that it has been a place of sorrow
Where the hopes for children have not been fulfilled
Where the desire for parenthood has not been granted
Where the womb has remained infertile
Where tears have been the bitter fruit


And so in the silence we bring to God our grief
We lay at the feet of the divine father and the divine mother
Our silent hopes
Our frustrated dreams
All that we wanted to be, but was not
A time of silence

Tree Planting

But we also come to plant
To dig into the womb of the earth which nurtures us
And place into the soil the roots of a living thing
The tree is brought forward
So at this time of planting we remember the great trees of faith
The tree of life in the Garden of Eden. Reminding us of what we have lost and that for which we yearn
The palm of Deborah under which Deborah sat to judge the children of Israel
The cedars of Lebanon which built the temple of Yahweh
The oaks of righteousness which display the splendour of God
The mustard tree growing from the tiniest of seeds into a home for the birds of the air
The tree on which hung the Saviour of World and where by embracing pain Jesus opened up the Way of Life
And we remember the tree of life which will grow by the river of life in the heavenly city whose leaves will bring healing to the nations
And we remember the trees of London
The romantic avenues of the Isabella plantation where James and Lucyann walked with lovestruck eyes
The orange trees which festooned a Battersea wedding
The old cherry tree of Bellingham, home to the roving woodpecker
The Sycamore tree of Homerton that grew in just the wrong place
The majestic beeches of Epping forest which brought peace and calm to city-sick souls
And etched on the placenta that growing, spreading tree of life which feeds and suckles the life within

Blessing and thanksgiving

Now we thank God for this tree. And we thank God for this garden and this place and all the people who have enabled it to be planted and nurtured and sustained, praying God's blessing on them and their continuing work. And we ask God's blessing on this tree
We all move to touch the tree
God of life we bless this cherry tree
cause it to grow a tough and bountiful tree
A permanent investment in this land and this place
A reminder of loss
but also of the life that will never die and the ever-growing fruitfulness of human love
We turn outwards
And we give this tree to the people of Kingsmead may it be to them a joy and a delight, abundant with fruit and beautiful in blossom


Now we leave this place
We leave here our grieving
We leave here our planting
We leave here love and trust and hope
And we look forward to the fruitfulness that is yet to come
for Lucyann and James we pray that they might find fruitfulness and abundance in their life in Wales and beyond
May it be so
for the families joined together in their marriage may there be love and understanding and peace
May it be so
for all the people that are touched by their work and their friendship may there be a new awareness of God, a belief that through the pain of life comes the resurrection of hope and the blessing of love
May it be so
and for this world we pray that there might be a turning away from death and the embrace of all that brings life and truth and the fruitfulness of the Spirit
May it be so
So together we pray
For life, for fruit
For pain, for joy
For mother earth
For father sky
For the holy dance of life forevermore