Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. [Psalm 112:1-3 (ESV)]
When walking in the swamp, I often see what are known as “nursery logs.” After a tree dies, its roots eventually decay and it falls to the ground, leaving an opening in the forest’s canopy for sunlight to reach down to the forest floor. The dead tree’s raised trunk becomes a nursery for new plant life as seeds fall on it and take root. Its bark holds moisture, providing young plants with water, and the decaying wood provides them with decades of rich organic nutrients. Starting with moss and ferns, vegetation grows and flourishes in the patch of light left by the tree’s demise. These nursery logs become gardens of new life and can contain five times more living matter than they did when alive! Eventually, a new tree will take root in the remains of the old one and the cycle of life continues for another generation. Supposedly, it will take about the same number of years for a tree to decompose as it took to live. Considering that trees can live several hundred years, one dead tree can leave quite a legacy.
I thought of those nursery logs today while reading an obituary in our local paper. Like the trees, this man may be dead but, most definitely, he is neither gone or forgotten. Here are just a few of the loving words written about him:
He touched the lives of everyone he came in contact with…after talking to him for two minutes he would immediately become your friend…would do anything to help someone in need…always had a positive attitude and was ready to listen if you needed to talk…a great man who was loved by all his family and friends and will be missed dearly…he would say love unconditionally, don’t hold grudges, and never walk away mad… tomorrow isn’t promised so make the best of today so you have no regrets…know you are right with God…remember [him] as the man who always made the most of life and always had a smile on his face.
I never met this man and consider it my loss that I didn’t. I have no idea the size of his financial holdings but, based on his career as a fishing guide, I suspect he was not a wealthy man. He was, however, an incredibly rich one! Whether or not he left his family with any money, his bequest of love, faith and joy, as seen in a life well lived, makes them more than rich.
While it is our belief in Jesus that gives us eternal life in our heavenly home, like the nursery logs in the forest, even dead, we can still persist. Once we’ve fallen to the forest floor, we continue to nourish life if the lives we touched while living were touched with faith, love, generosity, compassion and joy. Unlike the cypress trees, we may only be blessed with seventy to eighty years but, if wisely lived, think how that legacy can grow as each life we touched touches another. As did this man, we can leave a patch of sunlight when we fall, our example can provide a base for young seedlings, and the memory of us can bring nourishment to hungry souls.
Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life. [Albert Einstein]