Okay, not really seeds. A whole tree...but we’ll get to that.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend a very special retreat for men looking to live in their truest self, and live out their truest purpose. A part of the larger Ransomed Heart Ministries message, the Become Good Soil Intensive is aimed at men in their thirties who are willing to take the lower seat in order to be cultivated and shaped into the kind of men who are pulled into positions of power because their strength is needed and not because they are seeking after greatness. To help us prepare for the weekend, we were given a list of activities to engage in the message for the retreat: pray, spend time in scripture, listen to some podcasts. And plant a tree.
Talk about a disruption. And then I fell victim to the follow-on frustration - why is this so disrupting and challenging? It's only a tree! There are actually a couple of spots on my little slice of suburbia that I would like to plant something, so plans are at least vaguely formulated for such a thing already. But who has the time? Especially in this current season, where my margin feels squeezed down to almost nothing, taking the time to pick out and plant a tree is an extra that I just don't need. We're also thinking about moving in the near future - why am I going to plant a tree for someone else?!
But then God's kindness - "Pay attention here, there is something for you. Morgan and the team haven't asked this of you because it's unimportant. And there are layers of importance you can build into this."
In a recent conversation with a mentor and friend, he dropped in an aside that was extremely convicting - bring your kids along with you in the "why" of the things that go on in life. Why do you go to your men's group each week? Why do you spend time recording a podcast with Mike and Jon? By doing this we can model the ways in which we take care of our own souls, showing them the importance of relationships and self-care by valuing it ourselves.
And so I decided to plant the tree with my son. And not just have him watch me go through the motions, but to be a part of the whole process. We went to the nursery to pick it out. We talked through what we should get. We talked about how to plant it the right way so the tree can thrive. He used a collapsible camp shovel to help me dig the hole. And now he wants to help me water it. It is our tree. We put it there, and for as long as we get to enjoy it, it is ours. My son got to experience something that we wouldn't normally do, but more importantly he is being introduced to why we do things the way we do. The possibilities for that are exciting, as I continue on the masculine journey for myself while at the same time planning for how I pull him along in his time.
The tree - We live outside of DC, well-known for the Japanese cherry blossom trees around the tidal basin, and I love the explosion of flowers in the early spring each year. To me it is such a beautiful sight, and moving reminder of the relationships our nation has built over the decades. I am also a huge fan of "The Last Samurai," and a life spent contemplating those blossoms creates a picture of a simple, yet meaningful, life well-lived. When we got to the nursery, they were actually sold out of the variety of tree that is the predominant species downtown (not surprising, in retrospect, since we were shopping on the weekend of peak bloom). Instead, they had the Kwanzan variety, which accounts for a much smaller number of the DC trees, but has a pinker blossom (like the ones from the movie) that many consider the more beautiful flower. It also tends to bloom a little bit later than its crowd-drawing cousin. Less showy and more beautiful at the same time - there is something I really like about that!