The most gratifying thing about my job is meeting the amazing people who change the world around us with their generosity and compassion. They lead by example in creating healthier communities and by extension a better world. And sometimes... that's a world they won't live to see.
Alice and I are completing a series of interviews for a Capital Campaign Feasibility Study for Summit Healthcare serving Eastern Arizona. It's grueling work. Back to back interviews all day long, day after day, each of them filled with hope, expectation and uncertainty. Who will we meet this hour? Who will walk in a stranger and part as a friend? Who will inspire and humble us?
A few days ago, we were in the home of long-time community benefactors. I was looking from the eyes of the husband to the wife and being awed by the impact of their philanthropy, and I got a little chill, like I do when I've learned more than words have taught me. I saw in their eyes that this couple has spent their long life together "planting pecan trees."
As we parted, I thanked them for all the good they've done and the lives they've touched. I asked the gentleman if he knew the story of the old man who planted pecan trees. He shook his head and looked at me cautiously.
I explained...a young man comes upon a elder who is planting pecan trees. He asks the old man, "Why would you plant a pecan tree? They'll take so many years to mature that you'll never enjoy the pecans." The old man responds, "I plant these trees because all my life I've eaten pecans from trees I did not plant."
Our new friends smiled and in their eyes I saw that they intend to plant many more pecan trees, and I got another little chill.
Greek Proverb: "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
As we drove away from their home, Alice suggested, "Our next Day of Gratitude should be titled "Pecan Trees." I nodded, said "That's a good idea." And thought to myself... "Okay, I'll plant this one."