For several years, I was part of a theater group that often performed the inspiring allegorical tale “The Man Who Planted Trees.” It’s the story of Elzéard Bouffier, an old shepherd who reforested a large region of Southern France by planting one tree at a time as he tended his sheep. This story was made into an Academy Award-winning animation,1 a BBC production, an acclaimed puppet show, and has inspired countless individuals to start tree-planting projects since it was first published by Jean Giono in 1953.
My husband and I were traveling home after a long weekend away with our family. Our daughters were peacefully sleeping in the back seat, and I found myself reminiscing over the past years that we’d shared as husband and wife—years that almost seemed a blur, due to the busyness that comes with juggling a family with the many demands of life and work. I’m grateful that despite the many challenges we’ve faced, our marriage has remained strong and the two of us well connected.
The Bible has lots of advice on the type of people to surround yourself with. “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble,”1 for example, and, “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.”2
One Monday morning, about an hour into the workday, I checked my emails. “Sad” was the subject heading of a personal message, and I opened it up, curiosity piqued. “Sad” did not begin to describe it. I learned that our friend Roy had died suddenly the day before. He had been cycling with his wife Sunday afternoon when he became the victim of a hit-and-run accident. The words swam before my eyes, and I functioned in a fog for the rest of the day.
One Friday evening a few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to set out some lounge chairs in our driveway and let our neighbors know we would be out there with drinks and snacks. I raided my fridge and found some chips and salsa, carrots and hummus, a tiny wedge of cheese, and some leftover M&Ms.
I was one of the hopefuls that started last year with a brand-new planner. 2020 was full of promise, and I thought I had some control over the direction of the year. I had a long planned/postponed trip to see my family slotted for early spring, some home improvement plans, a saving/financial plan, plans for family vacations, etc.
During an especially busy time, I had a perspective adjustment that changed my outlook for the better.
I was involved in several major projects, had a huge amount of work to do, and was quite tired—almost exhausted.
Okay, it’s not quite cleared as in “0 Items,” and I don’t ever expect that. In the past month, though, I’ve gone from a rather long-standing position of always having between 100 and 150 items in my inbox to having only between 7 and 30 at any given time—except, of course, when I open my mailbox for the first time each day and the mail floods in.