Like Trees, Loretto’s Deep Roots Thrive in Denver and Beyond
By Cathy Mueller
Trees speak a lot about our lives, our growth, our rootedness. When I look at the grounds around Loretto Center in Denver, I am surprised and humbled by the many trees that tower above us. I think of the change since 1964 when we first moved there.
As I hear the Havern students laugh and play on the grass, I am reminded of young women who once played there, including volleyball in the gym and walking down to the dirt road of Wadsworth each day after lunch. It was a time of deepening roots that have nurtured us for life.
The trees started young, too, and we have shared the same topsoil, sinking our Loretto roots down deep and growing tall, branching out, beyond what we could imagine. As a novitiate, an education center, a school, a retirement center, a spirituality center, offices and a meeting place, it has served us and grounded us in community life. We have been observed and encouraged by the ever-faithful trees.
Through the years we have planted new trees, the most recent are the flowering trees planted for our sisters in Pakistan. Each tree reflects us, even as we move on — sturdy trunks, many branches dancing in the wind, providing home space for red tail hawks, eagles, robins and sparrows, protection for the bunnies and squirrels running through the grass, and the ever-present geese.
Some trees are gone, died or removed, yet others stand tall and magnificent. Now when approaching the center, the hilltop looks like a forest of green. Time can be measured in years, the number of times the trees shed their leaves and displayed new life in spring. In trees, time is also measured in rings, a record of its life expanding in ever-widening circles. So it is with us.
Like the trees, the more we branch out, the more we need to be rooted and anchored in the topsoil of trust which is the basis for healthy community. We have grown and are enhanced by that topsoil, and we must enrich it in return.
Rilke was not necessarily thinking of trees; however, his words reflect our interconnection with the trees in our lives: “I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.”