My Mother, one hundred years old, tired, and confused, sat alone at the table in the nursing home dining hall. There was little emotion in her face only acceptance, patience, and resignation. This was the best it could be for her. I'm sure she feels very alone: unable to see much, or hear much, or understand much about what she is doing, and even where she is. After all she had done; all she has been; and all she has been through; this is how it ends? Is this the sum total of life?
Back home it brings me down when I conjure up the vision of my Mother sitting alone and numb in that nursing home dining hall. What's the sense of it all? Then my gaze takes itself out the window to a tree: Mother's tree; a tree my she pulled out of the ground when it was just a sprout, put it in a container, and nourished it. She gave to me when it was time, and I planted her tree there when it was scarcely knee high.
Now Mother's tree is taller than the house with long branches making shade for the yard. Birds nest among its branches, and in the fall it bears acorns to feed wildlife. And some acorns stay in the ground and sprout, bringing the prospect of new life from the old, another tree for another time.
My Mother's world has shrunk to a very small circle of life, but like the tree, she has provided shade and fruit in her time, and in doing so, she has left new life sprouting where she has sown. "Who so ever shall lose his life shall find it ---" My Mother has essentially lost her life now, but the fruit she has left will remain. And it will remain in me. Because she has planted and nurtured, she will leave much more than a single tree. Her influence will be felt long after she is even known or known about or anyone knows where the influence came from.
Knowing all this, what will be my life sum total when I reach that lifeless life at the end of life? Will I have planted weeds that only crowd, congest, and consume, a product of a life lived mainly for myself? Or will I have planted trees - fruit trees - that bear fruit for the Glory of God for this and future generations?
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit: so shall ye be my disciples.