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  • Wayne Chasney

Shade Trees

For I am going to die in this land without crossing over the Jordan, but you are going to cross over to take possession of that good land. (Deuteronomy 4:22)


You have to feel bad for Moses. After everything he went through, confronting Pharaoh, dealing with a large group of malcontent people who all thought they knew better than he did, wandering in the wilderness for forty years, and he doesn’t even get to cross the Jordan River and set one foot in the Promised Land. Seriously?

I feel like saying, “C’mon God. Give the guy a break. After everything he has done, can’t you even let him have that!” But no. The journey must go on without him. With new leaders who will face new obstacles. The world must go on.

I have long appreciated the Greek proverb, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit.” It speaks to me of generosity, selflessness, and love. It says that we are not simply put on this earth to take, but also to give, to leave a legacy for future generations. It’s also a reminder that even after I am gone, the world will go on.

Moses seems to accept his place in the story. He doesn’t try to bargain with God for just a few more steps. He doesn’t rant and rave about how unfair it is that after all he has done. He does his part, plants a few trees, and passes the baton to the next generation.

May we all live with such grace, knowing that the goal is not how much we have but rather how much we leave behind for those who will follow.

I am thankful for the trees that were planted generations ago and the shade they give today. And I remember with gratitude those, like Moses, who were willing to work for a future they themselves would never see. Today, I plant a tree in their honor for the children who have yet to be born.

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