I saw an episode of a documentary the other day about various cultures called Human Planet, presented by the BBC channel. One particular culture really stood out to me. They are the Khazi people of India. One of the men they interviewed had planted a seed, 35 years prior that grew into a tree that he then shaped to form into a bridge. (clicking on the link above will take you to a picture of one of the tree bridges)
The man learned how to coerce the roots across a small creek. He was instructing his daughter how to handle the roots to form more bridges. These bridges are literal, living structures. They are not swinging bridges but solid bridges, eventually their 'floors' of intertwined roots are filled with soil and rock steps and looking down upon them, hardly seem like they were not original ground of the earth itself.
The creek bed was chosen because the man knew, eventually, it would be a river. This man had a vision of the future and how his work would affect it. The bridge is a pathway that all of the villagers use regularly. He explained to his daughter that her children and her children's children will use the bridges that she shapes and creates.
What a legacy!
He also instructed his daughter how to tenderly care for the roots. Taking care not to break or cut them. From my limited gardening knowledge I know that nicking a root
can cause it to sprout fresh trees in other places that will drain
nutrients from the original tree. The roots cannot be forced, they are slowly and carefully trained into shape.
A man sticks to his purpose, faithfully and is able to positively impact the future for generations. Not only the generations he will live to see either--some of the trees of these bridges are over 500 years old.
The bridges are sturdy, sturdy enough to withstand floods. In one scene the camera showed two bridges right above each other. I don't know why, but I can imagine that an extra bridge may have been created in case the other one gave out. Or perhaps it was to be able to cross over from a different height of land.
I want to be a bridge builder. One that is not afraid to plant a seed for *future generations* to benefit from, even if it takes 35 years to grow and build that bridge. I want to teach others how to cultivate the roots that these seeds form, into more bridges for others.
This was such a significant visual for me, as a parent and a Christian. Aren't we all called to guide others along a path that leads to Christ and to teach others how to build those bridges? I may not even need that bridge in my own life, but others will. Future generations will need bridges. I can plant a seed that will become a bridge decades later to be used far into the future.
Let me not be so present minded that I lose sight of the potential future for all I may come in contact with. And may I not lose sight of the responsibility to teach others how to build those bridges. May I not be afraid to plant seeds in the same places to replace potential loss. May I plant seeds that will lead to roots strong enough to endure the unforeseen obstacles that may come against it. May I teach others how to tenderly care for and not neglect those foundational roots.