In the beginning God created the world and he made forests. I don’t think he had tree planters, perhaps he just looked at the blank space and though “trees, yes, lots of trees” and…voila a forest was made. Really, I have no idea how it all went down but I was wondering today while we were out planting if “Adam” or “Eve” ever had to plant trees…I’m not sure what I concluded.
Here’s what I do know: planting trees must have something to do with brokenness and restoration. We plant trees to make newspapers and books and toilet paper. We plant trees because we abuse the resources of the earth and waste, waste, waste.
Tree planting can and will break you, both spiritually and physically. It’s by far the most demanding, brutal job that I have ever had and in theses first three days (which have been a bit of a gong show), I’ve been so reminded of the challenge before us out here. There is something to be said about hard work, and this is hard work indeed. Hard for the mind, body and soul. It’s the ultimate test of flexibility, endurance and mental wellbeing. Yet, after three short (but feeling oh-so-long) days, I am not yet broken. I’m tired, bruised, and a have had a bit of an eye-opening of what this summer is going to look like, but thankfully, my spirits are good. God has been so good. We have friends, food, shelter and we are cared for. We’re here to make money, but I’m also here to stretch myself…to grow. And the only way to grow is to put myself in situations that are difficult for me. I’m determined to learn while I’m here and to live with eyes wide open, seeing and truly knowing how good I have it.
I’ve written before about seeing one’s self as the hero in a story…that’s the thought I want to start off each day with. How would I act if I were the protagonist in my own story? I know that I can control very little around me this summer. I can’t control the contract, the land, the weather or how long I work. Heck, I can’t even control my emotions. What I can do, though, is to control my actions. I want to be deeply grateful. I want to be kind and patient and I really want to be hard working. I think a hero is all of these things. I like to cheer for underdogs, those in struggle…and I think that is going to be me this summer. Struggling…and hopefully making enough money for my tuition. I know that if I look in the right places, I am going to see good life all around me and while I might naturally tend toward despair, disheartedness and complaining, I don’t think heroes dwell on such things.
All this to say that the last three days have been testing. I’m rusty. We’re really making barely any money. And yet ( and isn’t there always an “and yet”?) today we have laughed and eaten and worked hard. I will dwell on these things. Tree planting is about brokeness, a broken world using too many resources and broken bodies and spirits trying to replant the forests to make some cash for school. And yet…and yet….