Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 4, 2014

Be A Tree Planter

Magnificent — that’s the word that best describes the huge live oak trees at Brazos Bend State Park. These stately giants elegantly dressed in Spanish moss have lived through lots of years of Texas history. As a kid I learned that scientists can determine the age of a tree by counting the rings in the trunk of the tree. The term for the study and dating of annual growth rings in trees is dendrochronology, from dendro (tree), chronos (time or events in past time), and ology (the study of).

Big Oak
This morning, my buddy Brian Stone and I headed to Brazos Bend for a day of mountain biking. This was Brian’s first time to ride the trails at the park and, as I expected, he loved it. Before we had clocked our first mile our conversation turned to the topic of trees. You can’t help but wonder about the ages of the really big trees as you walk or bike the trails at the park. Although I don’t know anything about the science of dendrochronology, I do know that these trees have survived lots of stuff through the years, including hurricanes and droughts and other threats.

As we biked our way down the trails, I shared with Brian a great thought by Warren Buffet that I had recently read in “Forty Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World,” a book authored by Buffet’s son Howard. Buffet said, “We do sit in the shade of trees planted by others.” He continued, “While enjoying the benefits dealt us, we should do a little planting ourselves.” What a great thought and reminder that there is wisdom in planting trees.

Big Tree
Like John Chapman, the American pioneer nurseryman also known as Johnny Appleseed, those who plant trees have a vision that extends beyond their lifetime. Tree planters invest in the next generation and have faith in a future they may never see. They are not afraid to take on big projects or to start things for which they may never see an end result. And yet they plant anyway because they believe that someone in the future will one day enjoy sitting under the shade of the trees they planted.

Brian Big Tree
The huge trees at Brazos Bend did not get huge overnight. And the trees that we plant will not get big overnight. Good things, including growth and maturity, take time. In the parables of the kingdom (Matt. 13), Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a tiny grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. That tiny seed, Jesus said, eventually grew into a big tree that offered shelter to the birds of the air. Big things often have small beginnings.

Tree up Close
So, after this day of enjoying the shade and the beauty of the big trees at Brazos Bend, I am thankful for the reminder to be a tree planter, to see beyond my own generation, and to not underestimate small beginnings. Not every seed that we plant will grow or survive the ravages of time, but some will. And those that do will provide shade for people we will never meet. That’s the beauty of it all. Each of us can indeed help to make the world a better place by thinking beyond ourselves and by doing something to bless those who will come after us.


  1. One of my favorite spots…to be…

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