“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17 NIV)
When I was a boy we lived 4 miles outside of town. My two brothers were 5 and 7 years older than me. For those reasons I spent a lot of time playing alone. I didn’t mind too much, though. We lived right next to the forest and I would spend hours every day playing in it with the oak and maple trees as my companions. I would climb up their limbs, sit in their shade, and soak up their peace.
That is why it was so hard for me when I found myself working in a lumber mill as a young man. It wasn’t just the back breaking work, the long hours, and the low pay. It was also seeing day after day beautiful trees that had grown for half a century being sawed up and cut into flooring. The red oak trees got it the worst because they made the most beautiful hardwood flooring. Still, I couldn’t help but think that they looked a lot more lovely as living trees reaching up to Heaven than as dead flooring lying under my feet.
One afternoon after a long day’s work there I was feeling particularly down and depressed. I decided then to take a little walk in the woods like I had as a boy in hopes of lifting my spirits and calming my soul. As I walked along with my aching back and tired body I longed for those childhood days again when I could play amongst the trees instead of chopping them up. I dropped my head dejectedly and looked down at the dirt. That is when I saw it: a single, red oak acorn that had somehow survived the hungry deer and squirrels all winter long. Then I remembered something I’d read once: “Eventually an acorn becomes a forest!” I smiled, bent down, dug up a handful of dirt, and planted that little acorn. I patted the dirt down and felt a peace and joy warming my heart. Then I walked back home happy once again to be a part of God’s green earth.
In this life we all start out as an acorn, but whether we become a forest or not is up to us. God gives us this glorious life here to grow, learn, laugh, love, share, smile, and help others to do the same. Don’t stay an acorn then. Embrace this gift of life. Use it to everyday stretch your soul towards Heaven. Use it everyday to create a mighty forest of love with everyone around you.
Joseph J. Mazzella