“Oh, the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun, and the rain, and the apple seed.
The Lord is good to me.”
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.
Swedenborgian Hymn made famous by John Chapman called Johnny Appleseed. (We used to sing it at church camp.)
I am a person given to reflection and spending time lost in my own thoughts. I love to take a cup of coffee and sit out on my back porch. A peace settles on me and life gets sorted out. In my garden world, there is beauty, orderliness, and a stillness that yet contains the songs of birds, the beating of butterfly wings, and the busyness of bees. Life lessons are everywhere my eye rests.
Having lost several friends lately to early deaths, I have found myself thinking about the meaning of life. Several weeks ago I was looking at some gardening quotes. One by Nelson Henderson has been sitting with me since then:
“The true meaning of life is planting trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”
As with most profound things this quote appears simple, so it is easy to be struck by it, then forget it.
Yet, for me, thoughts like this stick around. I cogitate, hang on to them, chewing them over for their meaning. My first superficial thought was that I believe ecologically we need to plant trees to help our atmosphere. I read once that if each person planted at least one tree, in its lifetime that tree would replace the oxygen you had used up living.
So, one of my gardening goals has been to plant trees in honor of all my family. The twins and I planted a redbud for their tree. I have two curly willows that I think of as representing our graceful granddaughters. In one shared plot, I planted a lovely lavender crepe myrtle for my mother, standing nearby it is a plum in honor of our daughter. At the front, inviting you in, is a Japanese maple, short, strong and the guardian of the garden for our son…in law…and in our heart. I have an oak, tall and upright, I will plant this fall that will stand for our son, with a tulip tree for his wife. For me there’s a Japanese magnolia, my favorite tree, and finally, for Doug, there’s a fig (take that Adam and Eve!)
Everyone of them will outlive me. A green legacy, I will leave behind someday, along with my garden, without knowing how they will fare. And that’s ok. It has been my job to plant them. It will someday be another’s job to tend them, and ultimately their fates are theirs (and in my view, God’s, the true master gardener.) Makes me wonder if any of Johnny Appleseed’s tees are still growing, or perhaps their offspring still providing apples…and cider.
I only know that I can’t be responsible for those outcomes, their tomorrows. I can only control today. On this day, I can do what I can to contribute to making the world a little greener, a little better, while hoping that whoever sits underneath the shade of my trees, who picks the plums or the figs tomorrow, enjoys the fruits of my labor.
Writing this, thinking about it all, reminded me of a quote I have always loved by a 5th Century Sankrit writer, poet, and sage: “Yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow only a vision, but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”
So these are my thoughts for today, along with a prayer that on this day you live well and fully. May you sow seeds of wisdom for tomorrow, drink deep the joy of life in this moment, and hold a vision of hope in your heart for the future.