Like many other parishes in Cornwall St Buryan received a baby Yew Tree from the Bishop in Truro Cathedral in 1999. At that time yew trees were being blessed and planted all over Britain as a demonstration of Christian Unity and Witness at the end of the Second and start of the Third Christian Millennium. Our yew tree was so tiny we did not expect it to even survive the journey home to St Buryan, let alone grow to any significant size. Yet, ever since its arrival it has been quietly loved and nurtured, and I think, if you haven’t seen it for some time you will be very impressed with the growth our little yew tree has made.
The yew tree is an extraordinary tree. It can hibernate for centuries if conditions are not suitable for it. It can appear dead and wooden and yet life continues within it, ready to burst forth when it feels the environment is right. This means that it’s impossible to date yew trees by counting their growth rings. But it also accounts for the tree’s great antiquity. There are many yew trees in Britain over 2,000 years old, a number over 4,000 years old and one which may be even as old as 8,000 years. They are the oldest living things in our country, and we know that our own little yew tree came from a tree that was alive at the time of Christ's birth, so it is rightly, very special to us.
At the present time it is still young and vulnerable. It lacks the vast size, ancient strength and old wisdom of its parent tree and without our help, it might still perish. It needs care, attention and thought just like any other living thing but it is still big enough to bear witness to the wonders of God and the steadfastness of God's love. We planted it to mark the start of the third Christian millennium. God willing and with our continued help and the help of our descendants, it will bear witness to our faith for thousands of years.
Can one tree make much difference? Yes, if through it, you see and hear the voices of the rest of creation, longing for life. Our world is a strange and wonderful environment, full of promise and threat, delicately balanced on the edge of hope and despair. Can one tree make a difference? Yes, if we care for everyone around us, for all of God's creation, and the promise of new life within every living thing.
This is our very own Yew Tree, we have no idea what the future will bring for it, or for us or for the rest of creation. But we trust in the love of God and in the help of humanity. Will you join us in this trust?