Holiness in our Midst: Session 45

Holiness in our Midst


A tree with meaning to me is a white oak growing near the shelter house and overlooking the lake at McFarland Park in Ames, IA. It honors the memory of fellow Nevada (IA) native Bill Horine, nature writer/photographer and outdoorsman. He passed away in 2014 at the age of 99.

I met Bill in 1994 at a master’s graduation party for his daughter Ruth Book. I asked him:” Do you think you can tell me how to respect the land?”  He said, “Well, I don’t think I can tell you, but I think I can show you.” He showed up in my driveway a week later, asking if I wanted to visit an ailing friend of his, an ash tree. For the next seven years, until I moved out of town, he imparted his wisdom as we drove around the area hunting for the geographical center of Iowa or visiting local parks.  He loved to point out eagles. He felt that I “needed” to see a half million birds at the same time and arranged for me to travel with his family to Desoto National Refuge near Missouri Valley. At 5 a.m., we crouched silently along the water’s edge and gazed in awe of the geese landing at sunrise. “We are only guests here on earth,” he was fond of saying.

Once I asked how I could thank him for all that he “showed” me. He said, “That’s easy. Plant a tree and think of me.” Remembering these words, his family and I planted the tree last year just in time to mark the first anniversary of his death (which, coincidentally, was on Thanksgiving Day!) A living legacy to a person who was mentor to many! This spring a rock will be placed next to the tree commemorating his life and work as an “Outdoor Photographer, Writer, Storyteller, and Conservationist…Inspiring generations to enjoy, value and care for the outdoors.”

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Share about a tree that has meaning for you.


  1. Read the above reflection.
  1.   Write about a tree that has meaning for you. Where is it? When and why was it planted? How are you connected to it? Do you visit it?



  1.   Read aloud Session XLV.   
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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