As I hiked through the Hoh Rain Forest, I read an interpretive sign that was placed by a funny looking tree with roots exposed as if it had grown on top of a rock that had been removed. The interpretive sign explained what a nurse log was. The forest floor can be a harsh environment for new life. Plants and trees of all sizes and shapes are fighting for water, sunshine and nutrients. When a tree dies and falls to the ground, something amazing happens. Little tiny tree saplings begin to grow along the fallen tree. By growing along the top of the fallen tree, the saplings are given an advantage over the life that is struggling to survive on the forest floor. Atop the fallen tree is a height advantage with more access to sunshine. The fallen tree acts as a sponge and helps retain rain water for the new saplings. As the fallen tree begins to decay, it provides nitrogen and other nutrients for the saplings. After years and years of growth, eventually what remains is a sapling that grows into a mature, healthy tree with the nutrients from its fallen ancestor coursing through it.
The nurse log is a beautiful reminder of what it means to leave a legacy. What it means to stand on the shoulders of giants. We will all leave a legacy, and it is important that we are intentional about how our life affects those who come after us. Often our greatest legacies are the values we instill in our children, our stewardship over that which was entrusted to us, and our faith that nurtures us. At first I saw an empty space growing under a funny looking tree. Now, when I see that empty space, I am reminded of what it means to live a legacy.
As featured in the April/May 2019 Westsound Journal.