Monday, June 21, 2010


We are visiting friends in Missouri right now, and my friend was telling me a story she heard regarding the oaken beams in the dining hall at New College, Oxford. The beams were rotting, so they wanted to replace them, but the oaks had to be very tall in order to be made into beams for this particular building.

They asked the college forester if there might be some oak trees on college lands that were tall enough for the beams. He said there had been a grove of oaks planted for future provision. The administrators had some of the trees cut down and used for beams.

I love this story so much, although the folks at New College say it isn't true. It reminds me of one of my favorite Wendell Berry quotes:

Invest in the Millennium. Plant sequoias.

I want to plant sequoias. I want to teach my kids to plant sequoias. I want us to have a long-term view.

They are learning a lot about singing this summer. I majored in vocal performance in college. I was thoroughly trained to sing healthy (healthily?), and to resist poor technique. In the last year, I have come into conflict with my children over this issue. (I don't think they realize how very thoroughly I was trained to resist unhealthy singing.) They have figured out that they can get more volume with less work by belting out their songs, and naturally want to take the easy route. I have alternated between discussion and masterly inactivity in dealing with this issue. I feel so strongly about them learning to sing in a way that will preserve their beautiful voices, although the process is longer. In the end, they will have to decide whether to bloom quickly and fade, or grow slowly with a good foundation.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.

Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.

--Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

And as I work on next year's plans, I, too, want to remember I am planting sequoias, that my profit is the forest I "will not live to harvest." I want to keep the long-term in view.

No comments: