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Monday, September 21, 2015

Planting a Tree at the End of the World

It’s an apocryphal story (one that doesn’t go back any further than the middle of the 20th century) that Martin Luther, when asked what he would do if he knew the world were to end the next day, responded by saying that he would plant a tree. It’s nothing more than a pious legend, but I thought about that story this afternoon.

I received news today that the world is ending for a very good friend of mine. His life, his career,his hope, all of it is collapsing. And there’s little that he can do about it. And there’s even less that I can do about it for him. I have no influence over anything. I can’t fix the broken things. I can’t restore the dying things. And he lives too far away for me to hop in the car and go over to visit - even if I did make the drive, the best that I could do would be to sit in stupid silence for him.

My schedule for today included helping another friend of mine, one who lives here in town, “Garden Jim.” He needed help transplanting a magnolia tree. I changed out of my Salvation Army uniform and drove over to his place to meet him. Together we loaded the tree, along with shovels and gallons of water into the back of the pickup truck, and moved the tree to its new spot, right near Jim’s garden.

We dug a new hole for it, put it in place, poured water over the roots, replaced the dirt, poured more water into the soil around the tree, tamped down the dirt, and poured more water over it all.

I don’t know if the tree will survive the transplant, but as it was going to be cut down anyway, if it doesn’t survive nothing will have been lost. But I’m really hoping that it does. I’m planting a tree at the end of the world for a friend of mine and hoping for the best.

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