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Sunday, September 27, 2015

PLANTING FOR THE FUTURE

by Cynthia Ruchti

Of all the trees on our property, this one holds my attention. And affection. Its brilliant colors in autumn stir the poet in me. But that's not where its value lies for our family.

This tree is the daughter of a massive maple that once graced a different part of the yard. The day a storm toppled it, we mourned, even the youngest child. It had served as sentry, fort, hiding place, shade, shelter, goal post, and bird habitat for possibly a hundred years or more.

The parent tree died twenty-five years ago.




My husband had some of the wood milled and used it for various woodworking projects. He built jewelry boxes and carved keychains for us to remember that regal tree.

He also dug up a six-inch tall sapling that had sprung from the roots while the parent tree was alive.

That sapling became this beauty, more than nine thousand days later. A hundred seasons. (The photo was taken a year ago, so it's grown a mite more since then.)

A hundred seasons of sun and wind, drought and flood, heat and bitter cold. For many of those seasons, the sapling's growth in height could be measured with a child's foot-long ruler. Then a yardstick. Then compared to the height of a man. Now it stands as its own measure, providing shade and shelter like its ancestor did.

When this tree reaches the age and impact of its parent, this property will belong to someone else. We planted for the future, not for immediate gratification.

Did you sow a seed of kindness today? It will reap a harvest, maybe not this season or the next, but someday. Did you speak a harsh word? It too will reap a harvest.

Did you nurse bitterness? Feed a prejudice? Let a bad habit take deeper root? Spread gossip? Skirt the law? Disappoint your God?

Did you invest in a professional relationship for the sake of Christlikeness rather than an agenda of personal benefit? Did you follow through on a tidbit of research without knowing if it will be useful to your current project? Did you dedicate your time to God's choices for each moment today? What might grow from that seasons or decades from now?

Seedlings of compassion, understanding, bridge-building, love, education, and spiritual health grow to maturity over the course of time.

"Let this be recorded (or planted) for future generations, so that a nation yet to be created will praise the Lord," Psalm 102:18 NTLB.

"Future generations will also serve Him. Our children will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn. They will hear about everything He has done," Psalm 22:30-31 NTLB.

What seedlings can you and I plant today that will provide shade for future generations? What saplings from strong stock can we nurture for the sake of those who will come behind us? What stories will we grow for others to read?






3 comments:

Ane Mulligan said...

A beautiful reminder that all our actions have eternal consequences. Hopefully they're good.

Edward Arrington said...

Beautiful tree and enjoyed the story. We have a maple in our back yard with a story, also. We lived in another state in the early 70s. In the spring of our last year there, a lady came by campaigning for her son who was running for public office. We were registered voters in our home state of Virginia and told her so. She was handing out small maple saplings on her son's behalf and told us to take a tree anyway, even though she knew we wouldn't be voting there. We had a plastic bucket that was about two feet high and a foot in diameter. I planted the sapling in it. A few months later, we moved back to our home state and brought the sapling with us. I transplanted it in our back yard. That was 42 years ago. Around the time the lady gave the tree to us, we found out my wife was pregnant. Our son was born a few months after the move. We named him Eric. Sometime later we started calling the tree Eric's tree. Eric is grown and married and has three sons of his own. His tree still stands in our back yard. It will soon be beautiful with bright red leaves.

Cynthia Ruchti said...

What a moving story! Thanks for the reminder for those times our endurance flags!