A 16 October 2010 note from Barry Lopez contained these words of encouragement and grace:
I could feel the grief in your letter over the loss of the Comose Fig. I am sorry it’s gone, and that if the university was going to force the issue the way they have, that they didn’t make room for an appropriate ceremony, so that the many who loved the tree could speak their words of farewell.
I suppose that some would consider feelings of grief a sign of sentimentality, but they are really evidence for the survival of an ethical imagination, to use Frank Stewart’s term for it. They are evidence for the survival of compassion and the world outside the self at a time when these emotions and perspectives are a great inconvenience for bureaucrats and business people driven by dreams of growth and efficiency.
When I received Barry’s note, the notion of having a ceremony stayed with me, and some months later I proposed to my friends that we have one. It turned out that we were all free on Martin Luther King Day, and so we decided to honor a great tree on the day honoring a great man and his dream of peace.