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?