Tanabata Tree

A key visual image at the 2007 festival was the Tanabata tree—several trees culled from the Luther grounds were placed in the lobby and the main hall of Luther’s Center for Faith and Life, where the festival was held.  We linked this tree to a biblical passage from Revelation 22, where John describes the tree of life revealed to him and says that “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”  We hope that our leaves—the poems and stories we write—will be for the healing of the nations of our world.   

In the Tanabata Festival, an old tradition based in Chinese mythology that is celebrated in many Japanese communities in July or August, people write wishes on strips of paper to hang on the branches of a tree. We invited presenters and attendees to help construct the Festival’s Tree of Words by writing a few choice words—a favorite poetic line or a prose sentence—on one of the beautiful paper strips we provided and then hanging it from the tree.  

Luther Art Professor Kate Martinson, with the help of her students, designed and provided the decorative paper slips. The result was a shimmering of powerful words dangling before us as we read and listened to the fine work of our presenters.