Martin Luther once said ‘even if I knew that tomorrow the world was going to go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree’.
This could be perceived as an act which is foolish, profound, absurd, symbolic, mockable, hopeful and essential. Lots of things are like this, all mixed up and contradictory but still essential.
A very long time ago myself and a group of friends spent a day digging a hole on a beach in France – just for the sake of it, taking turns to see how deep we could go. It was funny and pointless and bonding all at the same time. It would have been more straightforward to have found one already dug. But that would be no story at all.
I have spent a lot of time at home with my young kids and as such read a lot of kids books. One of these is a Mr Men book in which Mr Silly goes out to a hardware store because he has a tree to plant and wishes to buy a hole to put it in. He is of course told they are all out of holes, but they could offer him a spade.
What a disappointment.
I wish it were possible to buy a hole. This way I would not need to work out where to put all the mounds of dirt I dig up when I set out with my spade.
It would be a lot easier to say ‘I have a tree to plant’ and there would be a purchasable hole to put it in. Job done.
Hardware stores and life in general do not have holes available.
It is not much compensation that instead they have spades and pamphlets of advice on what you might do with what you dig up.
So if we ever go looking for each other, I imagine we are less likely to find one another resting under the boughs of some well established tree, and more likely to find ourselves digging. Hot, sweaty, with muddy, blistered hands and complaining of an aching back. We may be surrounded in a lot of mess.
I hope we will be kind enough to offer each other a drink of water.
and be grateful for this kindness,
because the world is going to pieces,
and we have trees,
and they need planting.