“The measure of the strength of a society is in the number of old men planting trees whose shade they will never enjoy.” ~Unknown
Dear mishpacha v’chaverim / family and friends,
Those of you who know of me probably know of the lady who took her family cross-country to homestead land. Some may think of me as someone who takes risks and thinks of consequences later… possibly. Those of you who know me (the real me) know that that is far from the case, and that this trip cross-country to homestead and build our home of grain bins while we lived in tents through tornado- watch summers, working against the clock before early winters, is uncharacteristic of my grounded and rather sedate personality. Even those who know me intimately may not realize how much I feel responsibility for both past and future generations: not just the grandparents I’ve met and grandchildren I will meet, but responsibility to help correct the mistakes of generations for hundreds or thousands of years of history. I have a deep yearning to leave the world in such a changed state that, thousands of years in the future, there will be less pain because multi-generational mistakes have been corrected in my lifetime. This long-term vision is sharply in contrast with an instant-gratification society, and sometimes leads me to occasional bouts of emotional exhaustion. Yes, my husband has informed me that this is entirely unreasonable …and it hasn’t transformed me. He does balance me well, and reminds me that the present does exist on occasion. As we say in Judaism, he is my “ezer kinegdo,” or strength in oppositional force. Without him I’m afraid our children might be depressed with all of Mom’s reality checks. As it stands, they seem to be fairly well-balanced young people.
This time of year, in between the high holy days and Sukkot (just passed), and Thanksgiving (coming up), has me noticing squirrels. They tuck their food away for winter in nooks and crannies and wherever they can hide it. They are smart creatures in that respect. Winter is long here. It’s only sensible to tuck away a wee bit extra if you can. This is the first fall where I have felt like we have been able to tuck away just a wee bit beyond this week’s groceries. We are finally beginning to feel the stability of not paying rent. We are far from what most people would call “in a stable financial position,” but to us it feels very comforting to have more than one week’s groceries in the house.
The picture of the squirrels tucking their bits away has given me a deeper level of comfort even beyond the image of a few extra groceries. Squirrels are not perfectly efficient creatures, even if they do think ahead. They forget where they have buried their acorns. Stashes of nuts go unused because they’ve forgotten them. It is exactly those lost bits and pieces; the ones they couldn’t keep track of; the ones that spilled out and were forgotten: they give me great comfort this year. Some of those lost bits buried in the earth in some forgotten stash hidden away will become the oaks that will nourish the next generation of squirrels and humans. May all of the places where I couldn’t hold all of my bits together, and where I made mistakes, and where I forgot the very important “acorns” that I had meant to keep track of serve as instruction for future generations to become the mighty oaks of wisdom that nourish them beyond what I ever could through my responsible efforts.