The 1000 Year Oak Tree

Last December(2013), on our way to see a house for sale we got totally lost. Typical. We ended up in a different province altogether. Parked in some random parking lot in a small town, we made a couple of rounds by foot in hopes to still find the place. We also cornered a lonely pedestrian who affirmed with the sense of authority that only a real local can afford: “This house doesn’t exist here!” So we stuffed the newspaper classified in our pocket and headed back to the car, where the kids were starting to stir.

Nothing left to do but embark on our journey back. Empty handed. However, as a consolation price we decided to stop at the 1000 Year Oak Tree site we noticed driving by. That was in Lummen, in Flemish Belgium, by the way. Nobody knows for sure if the tree is actually that old, but it has certainly been around since the Middle Ages. It was even a witness to some witch executions in the 17th century.

Now it was our turn to be humbled in the presence of this mighty giant. It was truly magnificent. Even with the burn wounds from a two day fire caused by an ignorant farmer in 1967.

The little house you see in the tree is a mini chapel with a Virgin Mary in it. It was the tradition in the Middle Ages to chop so-called holy trees and place a church where the tree once stood. Those that were spared, got a mini chapel as an accessory instead.

It was nice to be reminded of the role trees used to play once upon a time, how we revered nature. You can still find this sentiment in the Shinto tradition of Japan. But, honestly, how often do we stop to think about the world that surrounds us and what it’s been through.

So we picked some leaves and acorns as a souvenir. Maybe we can start our own 1000 year story.