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The Heritage Tree, Cape Perpetua, Central Oregon coast. This giant spruce is called The Heritage Tree because it stands almost 200 feet tall and because it started to grow as a seedling about the same time Martin Luther was pounding his theses on the church door at Wittenberg. What’s really fascinating about this tree, however, is that there’s this tunnel about 3 feet in diameter that runs through its base, making it appear that the tree is standing, or rooted into the ground on a tripod. This tunnel, this empty space running through the root "fingers" or buttresses is the space where a nurse log once was located. This giant Sitka spruce began its life as a seedling on a nurse log.

Nurse logs were once great, giant trees themselves. Then they died and fell to the earth. The log became a nursery for an entirely new ecosystem of life. With the nurse log down on the forest floor, light, as well as rain, now streams through the canopy. In such a high-moisture environment, the nurse log decays rapidly, and soon the seeds of mighty trees, caught in the mossy layer that now grows on its surface, sprout and take root. As they grow larger, their roots will surround the girth of the nurse log, and the tree will shoot up to take its place in the forest, and soon, strong and viable on its own, the tree stands alone, and the nurse log, utterly decomposed, has disappeared. Such has been the case with the 500-year-old Heritage Tree on Cape Perpetua.

This sermon this morning is about being a person, or a church, that nurtures and trains others who will follow, passing on our teachings and traditions, stepping aside so that others may grow in our place, making use of what we have learned.

(From a sermon by Ryan Napolo, The Heritage Tree, 5/10/2012)

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