Submission for ‘Tree of the Year’ Competition

Unmarked tree by Wege Pond. Photo courtesy of Zach Avery

by Zach Avery, Editor-in-Chief

For this year’s annual ‘Tree of the Year’ competition led by Aquinas’ Center for Sustainability, I have nominated a tree very close to my heart. This tree is unmarked, undedicated, and I couldn’t even tell you what type of tree it is. Despite this, it is my favorite tree on campus.

Last April, I wrote a piece on the Peer Ministry’s day-long ‘Verso L’alto’ event, which involved group community service, hiking, and prayer. The group of students who attended and participated in the day’s activities were all incredibly kind and supportive towards one another, and the event turned out to be a complete success. Of the many moments this team of individuals shared together on that day, the moments spent at the end of the prayer hike were my favorite.

The hike ended with an individually-led self-reflection at Wege Pond, where each person would contemplate what it meant to have God in their lives at all times. This meditation ended with a pebble being cast into the pond.

It was under this tree by Wege Pond that I participated in the meditation myself. I had always walked by it without any consideration or care, and it didn’t ever occur to me that I could (at any point I’d like to) step off the beaten path and see, touch, and feel any living tree or thing on our campus. This tree was my exposure to really seeing the beautiful scenery of Aquinas. Since then, I haven’t taken a single tree for granted.

The same unmarked tree between Fall (left) and Spring (right). Photos courtesy of Zach Avery

I’ve enjoyed that spot more and more as time passed on. My partner and I have spent lunch together at the picnic tables at the opposite side of the pond, the tree offering a gorgeous backdrop. We’ve used the pond for photos at ‘The Saint’ many times. Our cover photos on social media all feature the same view of Wege Pond, that wonderful tree, and a particularly magnificent goose standing nearby. Day by day, bit by bit, and moment by moment, I have tried my best to appreciate the area as much as I could. I’d like to continue visiting the tree there for years to come.

Each tree has triumphantly lived here for decades and decades, and we should show love and respect for them during our relatively short times here. I know that I’ll be stepping off the beaten path more often from now on.

Categories: Opinion, The Saint