Gratitude forest

This mural is inspired by the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. He has a beautiful ceremony called ‘Touching the Earth’, in which you give thanks to three kind of ancestors. During this ceremony you feel a lot of gratitude and also a lot of connection.

It is as though they are always with you. We thought it would be wonderful to express this through a mural.

We chose the metaphor of a forest, to express the ideas that we are not separate, and that we are ourselves ever-changing. In this mural, ‘you’ (or all the people in your home) take the form of a view through the branches, which include and connect to all your ancestors.

Tom painted the forest stage by stage.


First the branches…


… and then some leaves. Ready for the ancestors!




We started by added our families. That was relatively easy.


Our spiritual teachers came next. We can add more as we meet them.


Finally, we added our ‘land ancestors’ – the people whose work and ideas have made our physical and social worlds worth living in. This was an interesting challenge.

Who would yours be?

We’ll probably add more people, as we go through our lives.




It’s a beautiful process.