This past week, my “landscaper” neighbor who trims my shrubs and mows my lawn, planted a Jatropha tree outside our master bedroom window. The original tree in that spot died about two years ago. I’m thrilled that this empty space is now occupied by flora that blooms all year and tends to attract both butterflies and hummingbirds.
The planting of a tree made me remember a Greek Proverb that goes like this, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” In my situation, I’ll most likely get to sit in some of the shade from this tree. At the least, it will shade the southern exposed master bedroom windows next summer and beyond. But I love this proverb. And here is why.
There is a grim absence of visionary shade-tree planters in our culture right now. Most are living for their own moment, with little thought for the future of others. We see it in record-high personal financial debt and record-low personal savings. It is a prominent theme in a lot of governmental decision-making. Leaders of companies, non-profits and religious bodies seldom develop plans for succession and the future value of their organization. Parents rarely keep the end in mind while raising their children.
Five years ago, I wrote a “Forward-Thinking Leaders” blog. It was based on the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson. Visionaries like President Wilson, President Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir and Stephen T. Mather created pristine places for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of America and far beyond.
Take inventory of your own life. Am I just thinking about myself? Do I only plan for today, this week, this year, or even just for my lifetime? Am I setting up the next generations for blessing and success? Am I investing my life to leave the world around me a better place or am I just a consumer, taking all I can get? Will my grandchildren have more to enjoy or less to enjoy because of my decisions today? These questions are just a start for our self-evaluation.
I love this scripture that puts it all into perspective. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). It is so easy to get caught up in only what we can see at the moment. We must be very intentional if we are going to focus on things that aren’t in our immediate vision. My heart and desire is to help build a great community that plants “shade trees” that I will never sit under. How about you? Will you join me?