Reflections & Ramblings: Volume Twenty-Six
So shall I plant sequoiasJohn Mark McMillan,
And revel in the soil
Of a crop I know I’ll never live to reap?
from his song “The Road, the Rocks, and the Weeds”
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.Wendell Berry,
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
from his poem Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
For the last three and a half years, my wife and I have worked as house parents called “family teachers” at Boys Town, living and doing life with a house full of teenage girls. It has been quite the journey thus far, and we are in love with it and have no intentions of stopping anytime soon.
There is so much that could be said about what it takes to do this job well day in and day out, but we have learned that it takes incredible faith in the work that we do. We have learned to value the slow process of investing in these kids consistently — praying, believing, hoping — that what we are doing every day is having a lasting impact.
If you can trust in the process of being faithful in your work, you will find the satisfaction of making a difference and then be able to give yourself the permission to enjoy yourself along the way – to have fun!
We get to be consistent adults showing unconditional love to kids questioning that such a thing even exists. What a privilege that is! And I attempt to keep that knowledge, that feeling, integral to how and why we do what we do.
“What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.”Ecclesiastes 3:9-13
There are metaphors flying around us all the time. They are physical parables full of spiritual truths. We just have to remember to notice them and to learn from them. May we have the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the mouths to taste, and the hands and feet to touch the realities of the overlap of the kingdom of heaven and this earth.
The concept of “planting sequoias” has become a life mantra for me. It is a reminder that things take time to grow. And as I work in the soil planting little seeds in the hope of great results, I have determined to revel in the soil, to trust in the investment of a harvest I may never live to reap, and also to have faith in the future couple inches of soil, prophesying the returns of a multiplicative resurrection.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”Jesus,
in the Gospel of Matthew 13:31-32