There was a custom in the mid-eighteen hundreds of planting twin trees to celebrate a marriage and the starting of a home. The stance of these two, just ten feet apart, recalls a couple standing together on the porch steps, holding hands. The reach of their shade links the front porch with the barn across the road, creating a shady path of back and forth for that young family.
I realize that those first homesteaders were not the beneficiaries of that shade, at least not as a young couple. They must have meant for their people to stay here. Surely those two were sleeping up on Cemetery Road long before the shade arched across the road. I am living today in the shady future they imagined, drinking sap from trees planted with their wedding vows. They could not have imagined me, many generations later, and yet I live in the gift of their care. Could they have imagined that when my daughter Linden was married, she would choose leaves of maple sugar for the wedding giveaway?
Such a responsibility I have to these people and these trees, left to me, an unknown come to live under the guardianship of the twins, with a bond physical, emotional, and spiritual. I have no way to pay them back. Their gift to me is far greater than I have ability to reciprocate. They're so huge as to be nearly beyond my care, although I could scatter granules of fertilizer at their feet and turn the hose on them in summer drought. Perhaps all I can do is love them. All I know to do is to leave another gift, for them and for the future, those next unknowns who will live here.
Excerpted from Braided Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to leaving gifts behind far beyond your own lifetime? Can you share a story of a thoughtful action someone long before you took that has benefited you directly? What inspires you to pay your gifts forward?
What a beautiful reading. Thank you for the space to reflect. I am blessed to be the Dad of two little ones; Jasmine (9) and Joshua (7). From the time they were in the womb I have been praying that God would purpose their lives in loving service. They attend one of the most beautifully diverse schools in San Diego with 16 languages spoken. Everyday before school I ask them how they will shine God’s light of love, compassion and service. When I pick them up they report back to me. Occasionally I challenge them to stretch and reach beyond their comfort zone to encourage a Studnet they see having a hard time with something and everyday they must greet someone that they don’t know. As I read the passage I was moved because they ARE my twin trees. Ultimately they will decided if they want to live of life of faith marked by service love and compassion; being the shade to others that I hope they will be. I have planted them as saplings by a river of living water and it is my heart’s desire that they live dedicated lives of service as a reflection of the love our Lord Jesus to all men. Thank you for the encouragement this morning![Hide Full Comment]
Inspirational . For me , it is seeing my great great grand father whom I had the privilege of seeing as a child . When the British ruled India , he was in the police force and he was promoted to become an Inspector in the police one of they few Indians who rose to that rank during British rule . As a child he not only took interest in my education but also taught me the meaning of integrity , compassion , empathy and love , the values which i imbibed from him as a child . today it has been my endeavor to carry forward my great great father's legacy by setting an example of my own life spreading the values which I learnt from him . there is a considerable gratitude for him for inculcating the vales I imbibed from him .
Beautiful. Leaving gifts behind far beyond one's lifetime to me means leaving a legacy of kindness, of being shelter, being shade to others, however you might define that for yourself. It is about being a place of respite, of being the one who listens, offers a hand, a shoulder. Being the one who can be leaned on. I think someone long before from whom I benefitted within family context was my great-great grandfather Martin Quigney who courageously fled Ireland during the potato famine. He left on one of the last famine ships in 1852 and made his way to the US where he created new roots. I am part of his tree. On a larger scale and unrelated, I think of the many women who stood up together so that I could have the right to vote, own property and do the work I currently do. What inspires me to pay my own gifts of Story and Listening and empowerment forward are all those who have gone before me who also shared kindness and love and compassion. And I must say, it also feels really good in my heart, <3[Hide Full Comment]
All life is connected -- as a river of life that has been flowing on earth for a couple billion years. We are the leading edge of all life that has come before us, and we will be part of life that comes after us. We do leave gifts behind far beyond our lifetime -- the only choice we have is in what gifts we leave. I like the story of the old man who is happily planting a tree that others will enjoy. A personal story is that my house was built by a man in 1930, he lived in it until he died in 1968, and I and my family have lived in and enjoyed it for the past 40 years. I never met him and am grateful to him. We've made changes and improvements to the house and property that will someday benefit the next owner. More significantly, mentors have given me life changing wisdom, some of which I've in turn passed on to others. Knowing that we are all connected in one river of life, and knowing that I have benefited from those who came before me, inspires me to pay my gifts forward.[Hide Full Comment]
I love the metaphor of planting the Twin Trees. Two hearts, minds and bodies bonding together , nourishing and taking care of each other and all connected with them. We have received gifts of love and caring from our ancestors, our guardians and we are continuing the same shade giving to each other and others and and planting the Tween Trees for the generations to come. This is our sacred responsibility called Dharma.
I strongly believe that we need to spend time with our children to talk about our ancestries, where we are coming from, how much sacrifice they have made for us and how grateful we are for having them in our lives.It is somewhat like modern scientists are indebted to the scientists who blazed a new path of discoveries and inventions. before them This applies to philosophers, musicians, writers and dancers. We all are indebted to our fore fathers and fore mothers.
In our family we spend time together talking about our ancestors and paying homage to them, offering our gratitude to their feet.
May we never forget the great gifts of life and love we have received from our parents and grand parents and great grand parents!!
Jagdish P Dave