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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Tamarisk Series: Part III

Someone once asked me, "Stephanie, what are you going to do that will impact the generations that you'll never meet?" And the truth is that there's not much that I can do and even with those things I can do, without the correct motivational mindset driving it, those things are even less guaranteed to succeed my lifetime. We're playing in a game of free will and our opponent is a culture that is exceedingly boistrous, and incredibly successful, in its aim to pull everyone into independence; we're trying to leave something to be picked up by those who follow after us against a world telling them to go and make their own.

It is therefore my growing belief that we no longer live in a culture where such inheiritances are as possible, much less as welcome. The time where things were passed down from father to son on down the line will most likely remain in history on the large scale that it was once honored. Independence has spoiled us for such things. So rather than trying to fight against it all and trying to enforce an almost extinct tradition, let's move on and forget the whole battle against the free will of the future generations because the harder we try to force a legacy the shorter it becomes. And if God Himself chooses to limit Himself that we might have free will, oughtn't we give the same luxury to our children?

So get it out of your mind. Stop trying to think about what you can create that others can finish. Stop trying to think up some grand scheme that will hypnotize your children's children into honoring you, your life, and your life's work. Put it out of your mind, erradicate it from your thinking, of how you can win over free will because you can't. So forget it.

Now is probably a good time to write all such ideas down on a piece of paper, crumble it up and throw it in the bin as a physical action of what needs to happen in your heart and mind here. Even simply write the words "Force", "make", "try", and "mine" down on the paper and destroy it.

Please take a few moments to do this and ,by all means, make it your own.

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The tamarisk, once pruned and shaped into a tree, is an incredible thing. "Anyone sitting in the morning shade of the tamarisk feels its pleasant coolness. If the sojourner raises his eyes to the tree's branches, he will be surprised to discover shiny droplets of water on the thin branchlets. These droplets, most plentiful after a humid night, evaporate towards noon [the hottest part of the day]. A lick of the tamarisk's branches reveals its secret: tiny salt crystals are exuded by the tree into the leaves. At night as the moisture increases in the cooler air, the water vapor adheres to the hygroscopic salt particles and condenses into droplets. With morning, as the sun warms the air, the water evaporates and so cools the tamarisk's branches (Under The Tamarisk by Nogah Hareuveni)." The shade of a tamarisk tree is significantly cooler than any other tree because of this mystical phenomenon making it almost like a shaded mister. And herein lies the beauty of the tamarisk and the key to the mystery of what we can do in spite of an impossible battle against free will.

The shade of any tree would have been a welcome relief in the heat of the desert, but no other tree would provide such an enduring, alluring, multiplicative blessing as the tamarisk. Abraham did not seek to force anything upon the generations after him, entrapping their free will to his devices and thus securing his promise and inheritance, but rather he sought to bless them so richly that what followed would only continue to bless them and their children and so on. What Abraham did, what he left behind, was motivated by blessing. No shade is like the tamarisk's shade; no shade so comforting, no shade so rejuvenating, no shade so enticing as the shade that Abraham invested in. It was not for his pleasure, no; Abraham would endure the blistering sun and the tiring heat of the desert to prune lasting blessings for his family.

Abraham trusted God and entrusted to Him everything he did understanding that whatever happened after him would only succeed by the blessing, favor, and will of God Almighty and so turned his will to bless and thusly increased his favor.

We cannot guarantee the endurance of the things we plant in this life, but if we plant with an untainted aim to bless, trusting the rest to God, I think that we increase the possibility that the free will of others will be impacted by blessing to blessing.

To bless, to invest in blessings, is to think generationally.

 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Tamarisk Series: Part II

Belief took a man named Abram and opened the door for him to become Abraham; believing changed him. Abram had been a drifter, a wandering man moving about from place to place, but Abraham was a rooted man; rooted in a land that would later turn into the kingdom of Judah and, with that tree, drove his stake into the ground and planted himself there just as much as he planted his tree there. He made a home, not just for himself, but for the nation that would come from him.

For us proud Americans, how did your family get here? More than likely, you are now an American because somewhere along your family line, someone paid a high price by leaving everything they knew to plant themselves in a land that would ensure a better life for their family for generations to come. You are who you are, you have what you have, because someone in your family thought generationally- because someone in your line was an Abraham.

Now I know, these kinds of investments are hard to make; no one wants to have to choose between roots or wings. But the thing of it is that wings come from roots. What gave you the strength to fly?- A strong nest, a strong home, to launch from. We think out is the only way to grow. Why not build up? Why not build upon what has already been laid out for you?

There's something to be said for the generations before us, all the way back to the early settlers, who were committed to one place. Those people had influence in their towns and held seats of position and authority. They had power and means to do amazing things because they understood that their strength didn't come from themselves alone, it came from their roots and it came from the roots of those around them who watched them grow and they the same. Never underestimate the power of being known and never underestimate the power of community; both being products of roots and commitment.

The cost of such things, well...this is the hardest thing...you have to make choices and you have to stick with them. I think this is one of the biggest steps that we can take to thinking generationally.

The term "settling down" has a negative connotation these days. We only want to "settle down" after we've accomplished everything we want to do; after we've taken hold of that career, finished that degree, seen all the places we wanted to see, "sown our wild oats". In fact, many times we are encouraged to get all such things out of our system before making lifelong decisions. We have become masters at building bridges and have lost the art of building homes. We have doctorites in the Present and, in the process, have become amateurs in History.

Yes sometimes it takes a wild and daring move, to leave all you know and plant tamarisks in a land that you must make into your home, but those aren't the only moves in the playbook. Perhaps we need to open ourselves up to that equally wild and daring move that stays and sticks with it, a move long frowned upon in the rush for independence. A move almost as foreign to us, our generation, as the places and positions we are so anxious to escape to.

This obviously cannot be a formula for all people; some will stay where they've grown up, some will move onto other towns and places and plant themselves there, others may move around like a chess piece- one strategic move at a time. The point is that, in whatever case you may be called to move, you are fully present wherever you are, committed to the land that you call home for however long you call it, bettering the land as if it were your promised land.

For some of us "puddle-hoppers" this will require some serious re-evaluation, a good hard look at what values have been driving our decisions and altering our compasses and perhaps turning in our "passports" for a while. For some this will require a re-kindling, a closer look at what has been preventing decisions and concealing compasses. And for others it will require a sharpening, going back to your tools and re-inforcing them for the work before you. For whatever is required of us, for whatever land or commitments await, I am reminded of what an old traveler once said to me, "Wherever I am is where God has placed me and that's the best place for me to be."

Be present. Be committed. Be an Abraham.