Teaching Trees

Did you know the oldest living thing in the world is an almost 5,000 year old tree named Methuselah? We know it’s in California but not exactly where – the Forestry Service keeps that secret.

Another interesting fact – the LARGEST living thing in the world is also a tree – the General Sherman tree also in California. It’s 275’ tall and 36’ around at the base. It’s enormous. Huge.

I thought a lot about trees this past summer and used them in one of our Campfire talks. In fact, as I was walking around camp one evening thinking about the upcoming talk, a story from one of my teachers popped into my head.

Lessons from the Orchard

One day, a lady was walking down a beautiful country lane. To her left were fields of vegetables. On her right, there was an incredible apple orchard. Trees as far as the eye could see and all full of apples.

As she walked along, she came to an apple tree lying on the ground. It was huge, and old, and had more apples than any other tree. But it was laying on the ground.

She hopped the fence to inspect. Did the wind knock it down? Were there too many apples on it? In a few moments, the owner of the orchard pulled up and greeted the inquisitive lady. When she asked why the tree fell, the farmer pointed out the worms and the rot that toppled the tree.

“What do you do know?” she asked the farmer.

“The only thing you can do,” he replied. “Collect the fruit and burn the tree.”

(The crazy thing about this lesson popping into my head on a late Wednesday night is that the very next morning one of our oldest, biggest crab apple trees fell at Weequahic!)

Lessons in Life

We all make mistakes – and we are supposed to! The only learning or growth that happens is on the other side of ‘comfort’ or your current knowledge.

The bigger mistake is failing to look at the lessons from the mistake and move forward. Rather, a lot of times, we spend hours or days obsessing about the failure. We beat ourselves up about the mistake or we glibly move on without a second thought.

I feel both responses are mistakes. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. Don’t compound the mistake by failing to learn from it.

We need to be more like the farmer – collect the fruit and burn the tree. Take the lessons from your mistake and move forward with humility and purpose. It’ll make for a better life down the road. Have a great week!

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