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Simple and Profound Gifts

A very old man went out one day on the land beside his house, and began planting fruit trees.

A young man walked by. “What are you doing?” the young man asked.
“Planting fruit trees,” the old man replied.
“But you will not see fruit in your lifetime,” the youth said.
“The fruit that I have enjoyed in my lifetime,” the old man answered,”has been from trees that people before me planted.  So to express my gratitude of them, I am planting trees to give fruit to those who come after me.”

Medieval Irish Tale

There are moments when I am struck with the realization that I am very often the beneficiary of the fruits of someone else’s labors.  This most often happens for me when I enter a particularly beautiful building.  I’ll take note of the architecture and wonder how long the building took to construct, and who was responsible for the detail…whether it be the leaded windows, or the curve of the plaster wall, or the carving on a fireplace mantle.  I have been blessed to live in many beautiful homes, and often I thought about those who lived in them before me.  Right now, I live in a wonderful home in NE Portland previously owned by a landscape architect.  My yard is spectacular and each day I marvel at the beauty I am so lucky to have surround me; ever aware that someone before me planted each tree, and herb, flower bulb, and vine.  I am grateful for the couple who owned this home before me, a home which is now my sanctuary.  I wonder what I have left behind that others find joy from.  I have planted my share of gardens and tried to create some beauty along the way, but what more? Sometimes the labors of our lives seem simple and even unremarkable.  Yet I have been profoundly touched by fleeting and seemingly small encounters. We may never know the impact of our actions, how a gentle word soothed a wounded heart, or a warm meal offered hope.  It is not ours to understand; instead, I offer, we give thanks for those who touch and bring gifts to our lives without evening knowing it.
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