Recently read a story told of Elzéard Bouffier, a 55-year-old widower who lived in a French village in 1910, surrounded by poverty and despair. Not happy with his lot and believing He could personally do something, no matter how small and insignificant about it, he did something, simply by using available material.
He collected thousands of acorns and planted them throughout the area. When they took root, he cultivated beeches. When they become saplings, he planted birches. One day, amidst the death and devastation of World War I, a mysterious grey mist appeared on the horizon. It was the oaks of 1910, below them the adolescent beeches, and below them the tiny birch seedlings.
The storey goes that, “ Bouffier kept planting, and at the end of World War II, French environmentalists announced that a "natural forest" had "mysteriously" sprung up, flourishing amidst its barren surroundings. But the story doesn't end there; his forest started a chain reaction. Water flowed in brooks that had dried up. The wind scattered seeds, and willows, rushes, meadows and gardens sprang up. New people came to live there, bringing with them hope and prosperity. Elzéard Bouffier found acorns, planted them, and God did the rest.”
The article* continues: “God can do much with little. Look what He did for David with a sling and a stone. Watch Him feed five thousand with a boy's lunch. And He will do the same for you! Your life is like a pebble: it may not look like much, but drop it into a pond and watch the ripples spread in every direction.
Every day you live you have three options: (a) Think only of yourself and your own interests. (b) Since success doesn't come without the possibility of failure, take no risks and go no further. (c) Ask God to show you what you've got, then use it to make ripples.”
I like this story and others like it, because it echoes my own personal philosophy of always trying to leave something permanent behind, for coming generations. I know little about Beech or Birch trees, but I do know that planting Oak trees is a long term Vision. My father tells the story of planting an oak tree when his first son was born, for him (and the others, including me, still to come then,) to climb on later. Of course it never happened, but Dad did live long enough to see it finally grow big enough for his Grandsons and granddaughters and even great Granddaughters, to play on.
And there are many things like oak trees that we can start off with now, that take a long, long time to come to their full potential, but if someone doesn’t start sometime, it will never happen. So what “acorns” can you plant to day for the next generations to benefit from even if you can never realistically expect to benefit Personally? Over to you now.
* WISE WORDS 14/1/09