Originally posted at joshuastairhime.com
I’ve heard stories of a man named John Chapman since my first days in school. Legend has it that he would travel around Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Indiana in the early days when they were still territories and not actually states, and plant trees. He is known for being a bit eccentric, but we still speak of him more than 100 years after his death. I live in the city where he is purported to have died, at the age of 70, which apparently was quite the accomplishment back in 1845. In many ways, his legacy continues far past his life, and there is a festival that bears his name each year in my home city.
I am speaking of the man known now as Johhny Appleseed. Like folk heroes of old, he is credited with accomplishing some astonishing things, but unlike Paul Bunyan and Babe his faithful blue ox, John Chapman was a real person. Johnny is known for planting apples wherever he went, scattering seed to the wind, so trees would spring up everywhere he went. Mr. Chapman was more deliberate in his approach, planting seeds inside of fences he built to protect them, and selling these orchards to settlers for homesteads.
One part of the legend of Johnny Appleseed does appear to be true though. He cared deeply for nature and the animals that share our planet. Perhaps we are passing into legend again here, but it is said that he would extinguish a campfire, rather than allow insects to be burned up in it. He also became a vegetarian in the later years of his life.
Mr. Chapman seems to have believed in living a life at peace not only with the earth around him, but also with the people he met, . As he planted and cared for apple trees, he also planted and cared for people. It is said that befriended settler and native alike, sharing his knowledge with them. He forsook the comfort of the riches that he earned in his life (at the time of his death, John Chapman owned more than 1200 acres of land) in favor of travelling to plant trees and share his messages of peace. He planted seeds of peace that grew throughout his life, and into the decades following his death.
In fact, they believe that one of his trees is still alive, 176 years later, in a small town in Ohio.
I hope that as I endeavor to plant seeds of peace, I am as willing to be as uncomfortable as John Chapman was. I hope that I am willing to forsake the riches I earn, in favor of a legacy that honors the Prince of Peace, whom we honor in this Christmas season. I may never plant a tree that grows apples, but I hope that I am planting seeds that will grow fruit, and leave a lasting legacy.
Thank you for your example Johnny Appleseed, perhaps one day I’ll be known as Joshie Peaceseeder.
Could somebody maybe come up with something a bit cooler sounding though? Please?