Even small acts of kindness can spread and have effects that last for years, or even for generations! There is a story about an old man who is planting a sapling. Someone sees him and stops, watching with a sad look on his face. The old man asks, “Why are you sad?” The young man responds, “I don’t want to seem uncaring, but you are an old man. When that tree grows large, you will be dead. Why plant a tree whose shade you will never enjoy?” The old man smiles, old eyes twinkling in his weathered face. He pats the young man on the shoulder and says, “It is true, I will never enjoy the shade of this tree, but your grandchildren will! Perhaps they will hang a swing on its large branches and smile as they swing. That is enough for me.”
The young man went on to plant many trees during his lifetime, each time thinking of the wisdom of the old man who he saw planting a sapling all those years before. After he helped his grandchildren hang a swing on the large, sweeping branches of the tree that grew from that very sapling, he sat in the shade. He wiped the sweat from his brow and told his grandchildren the story of the old man who planted a tree whose shade he would never see, never enjoy, yet still found joy in the idea that this day would come to pass.
The young man’s grandchildren planted many trees during their lifetimes, each telling the story to their own children, who they taught to plant trees whose shade they may never enjoy… but someday, someone would sit under the tree and wipe the sweat from their brows and watch their grandchildren swing.