ED­I­TOR’S IN­TRO­DUC­TION Plant­ing trees

Activated - - NEWS - Sa­muel Keat­ing Ex­ec­u­tive Ed­i­tor

“The Man Who Planted Trees,” by Jean Giono, is the al­le­gor­i­cal tale of Elzéard Bouffier, a hum­ble shep­herd who sin­gle-hand­edly trans­formed a bar­ren re­gion of south­ern France by plant­ing nuts as he watched his sheep graze on a dif­fer­ent hill­side each day. It also in­spired the motto that ap­pears on the cover of each is­sue of Ac­ti­vated: “Change your life. Change your world.”

In the story, that one shep­herd’s decades of work re­sulted in the en­tire area be­ing re­for­ested, which brought back the wildlife, re­tained the springs, and im­proved the soil for farm­ing. Even­tu­ally, more peo­ple moved to the once nearly de­serted re­gion, and it be­came alive and pros­per­ous.

The story tells us that Elzéard em­barked on his mis­sion af­ter his only son and wife passed away. Many peo­ple would have re­treated into their sor­row, or sim­ply brushed off the idea as crazy, im­pos­si­ble, or not their re­spon­si­bil­ity. But he put his in­spired idea into ac­tion and slowly but surely changed his part of the world.

He had a clear goal and a sim­ple plan. He prob­a­bly didn’t set out to change his world on such a grand scale, but good things have a way of grow­ing when we rise to the chal­lenge. The two World Wars didn’t hin­der his work, nor did other seem­ingly in­su­per­a­ble dif­fi­cul­ties and set­backs. When he re­al­ized his sheep were nib­bling on the saplings, he switched to bee­keep­ing. When the 10,000 maples he’d planted died one year, he switched to beeches the fol­low­ing year, with more suc­cess.

Great things are of­ten the re­sult of pa­tient plod­ding. His task wasn’t es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult, but he stuck with it day af­ter day for decades, work­ing in part­ner­ship with God, do­ing what he could and trust­ing God to do the rest.

What seem­ingly crazy im­pos­si­ble idea do you have? With God’s help, it may not be as crazy or im­pos­si­ble as you think. Go ahead. Change your life. Change your world.

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