The Singing Tree
A Story and Art Project
Share the following true story with your students:
One night in World War I, soldiers in Hungary crawl on their bellies through the dead landscape of war, trying to avoid the enemy. Because of the fighting, there are no standing trees, no rabbits, no birds, no houses or buildings, no squirrels, no people, no evidence of life as they inch mile after mile in the mud and darkness. Not a single creature crosses their path through the weary ordeal.
At dawn, when the sun breaks through the darkness of the terrifying night, the soldiers come across one tree that is still alive. All the birds in the area have come to the only shelter that still exists for miles around. Birds that don’t normally occupy close quarters are sharing the tree. And the birds are singing. One by one, the soldiers stand up. Their fear of being shot by the enemy is not as strong as their gratitude for the signs of life before them.
The image of the mural students construct is based on the idea that the earth is the “Singing Tree” of the solar system – perhaps of the Milky Way and beyond. The third planet from the sun is teeming with different life forms in unlikely combination, surrounded by emptiness for billions of miles. Life seems to be a rare and precious occurrence. Everything that divides us is not as important as this fact.
Students work together with older or younger students or community members to create a mural that depicts our earth floating alone in the universe growing a tree that includes leaves depicting the things most precious to them. A pdf booklet explaining it all is available at snipurl.com/singingtreebk See also snipurl.com/stinstructions for more instructions.
This activity has been developed by Laurie Marshall based on the 1939 book The Singing Tree written by Hungarian author Kate Seredy.
More on Laurie’s work is available at www.soulemporium.com
Source: Based on the 1939 book The Singing Tree written by Hungarian author Kate Seredy
Recommended to calendar by: Laurie Marshall
CRE Calendar Usage: 1st Edition