March 11

National Johnny Appleseed Day
Reflection

On this fifteenth day of lent, on a planet where there is a daily destruction of trees, there is a national remembrance of a man who spent his life planting seeds which nourished the land with fruit and beauty. He was a man whose love for trees gives a powerful message to our time. We need to remember that the significance of forests on the health of the planet is immeasurable — providing our air, food and water.

National Johnny Appleseed Day celebrates a kindly legend who lived by sage teachings and labored to bring the shade of fruit trees across much of the United States. He spent his life making apple (and pear) trees bloom across the nation.

He was born John Chapman on September 26, 1774, in Massachusetts to Nathaniel and Elizabeth Simons Chapman. Not much is known about his early life other than that  his father served as a Minuteman and fought at Bunker Hill.

In 1797, Chapman appeared in northwestern Pennsylvania propagating his apple seeds and working his way into the frontier of West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana and eventually as far west as Illinois and Iowa and as far north as Michigan and Wisconsin.

In his wake, he left orchards and the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish spiritual leader whose books he would buy with whatever payment he might receive.

He planted his seeds and seedlings for free along with his wisdom, his broad-brimmed pasteboard hat keeping the sun from his eyes as he went. Often shoeless, he traveled mostly by foot and sometimes by horseback or canoe. His appearance was nearly as noteworthy as his accomplishments, but so was his kindness.

There are many stories told that he would travel many miles to nurse an ailing orchard when word would reach him of its poor condition. Bringing the trees back to health would be his chief endeavor while dispersing wisdom, care and kindness as he did.

Landmarks across the Midwest, pepper the countryside honoring Johnny Appleseed who brought fruit to the frontier. In his home town of Springfield, Massachusetts there is park named after this man who nurtured the land and made apple trees bloom across a young nation.
Adapted from the National Holiday Calendar

Prayer

 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For God commanded and they were created
…fruit trees and all cedars!
 Let them praise the name of the Lord!
Psalm 148

Action

Enjoy an apple today. Give someone an apple and tell them the story .Join the Arbor Day Foundation for $10 and receive 10 free tree seedlings. Plant and nurture them.

Suggested Reading

For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.
Job 14:7

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.
Matthew 13:31-32

I’m planting a tree to teach me to make the world a better place.
Andrea Koehle Jones 

Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.
Martin Luther

Trees exhale for us so that we can inhale them to stay alive. Can we ever forget that? Let us love trees with every breath we take until we perish.
Munia Khan

The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility.
Wendell Berry

What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.
Chris Maser

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Trees do not preach learning and precepts. They preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.
Herman Hesse

A man doesn’t plant a tree for himself. He plants it for posterity.
Alexander Smith

Until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven’t done a thing. You are just talking.
Wangari Maathai

Deforestation Facts 

The World Bank estimates that about 3.9 million square miles of forest have been lost since the beginning of the 20th century. In the past 25 years, forests shrank by 502,000 square miles— an area bigger than the size of South Africa.

According to satellite data, tropical forests are being destroyed at a rate of about 8 million hectares (31,000 square miles) a year — an area equivalent in size to the state of South Carolina.

Since the 1960s, nearly half of the world’s rainforests have been lost. Every day, about 81,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of rainforest — an area nearly 14 times the size of Manhattan — are burned around the world.​

About 36 football fields’ worth of trees are lost every minute due to deforestation.​

In 2015, nearly 6,000 square kilometers (3,600 square miles) of forests — the size of  the state of Maine — were lost in 2015 in the Brazilian Amazon alone, cut or burned to build ranches, croplands and roads.

According to a new analysis by scientists at the US Department of Agriculture, 36 million trees are cut down in urban areas each year, and 167,000 acres of impervious areas (concrete, asphalt, etc.) are added every year.

 

Tags: