I had an interesting conversation this week with the Year 12 Timber Class. They were trying to test me to see if I knew different qualities of timber, in-fact they were actually trying to get me to name a specific type of joint. The Butt Joint. I think they thought it would be hilarious for me to say the word ‘butt’. Our Timber Teacher, Mr Taylor was the one laughing the most. I think they were all a little surprised that I actually knew a few things about timber and wood work.
No matter how misguided, that conversation got me thinking back to when I worked in forestry – growing trees for timber production. I started thinking about how the knowledge I gained working in that industry has helped me in my current profession in education. And not just for the random conversations about joinery.
I think in some ways it helped and other ways not so much.
- I never had a tree argue with me about nose rings, tying its hair back, or wearing its uniform correctly but I did have to prune its branches to make it grow tall and straight.
- I never had a tree that was dealing with peer pressure or negative emotional relationships, but I did have to constantly remove the weeds from around the trunk so the tree got all of the nutrients it needed.
- I never had to make a tree complete a study summary, hand in its homework, or complete practice papers for upcoming examinations. But I did see the wisdom in its branches as it positioned its leaves to catch as much sun as possible allowing it to thrive.
- I also never saw a tree go to Chapel, read a devotion, or care for someone who needed help. But I did see that the trees that had deep roots were able to withstand a storm when those with shallow roots blew over.
When I drive past the paddocks of the thousands of trees I planted all those years ago I see how much they have grown. I often think, “wow, I was a part of that” and reminisce about the great job that it was and the work we did to set those trees up to thrive.
I guess I learned a few things in that job because as I looked across the room today at the Graduating Class of 2016 I thought, “wow, I was a part of that.” My hope is that we have set them up to thrive.
On the difficult days in my role as Principal I do think back to simpler times and ponder the thought of going back to work with the trees. But then I look around and realise that trees aren’t all that great.
- I have never seen a tree play music in the quad like Jayke bringing a peaceful and smooth tone to the playground.
- I have never seen a tree lead Chapel like Daniel, Isaac, Josiah, and Elijah bringing people closer to God.
- I have never seen a tree serve those in need like so many of our students at Community Kitchen, bringing God closer to people.
- I have never seen a tree host a successful conference here at Cedars like Kezzia, Hannah, Comfort, Daniel and many others.
- I have never seen a tree use creative skills like Jacob and Gabby who make wonderful media.
- I have never seen a tree play the drums as loudly as humanly possible directly below my office at all hours or the day like Josiah.
- I never had a tree help me buy a new car like Shania.
When I think about some of the contributions that have been made to our School from this Graduating Class I know I made the right choice moving into education.
I took care of the trees we were growing to help make them grow tall and straight and to give them the best start to life and help produce the most amount of timber.
This is also what we endeavour to do with our students here at Cedars. We try to protect them from the bad things in life. Help them to be wise and to connect them to God on a daily basis. We hope that this gives them the best start to life and sets them up for success.
Another interesting point about timber is that the most expensive and sought after timber is called ‘fiddle-back’. The grain in this section of the tree is extremely tightly packed is wavy and interesting. It is the strongest part of the tree and has the most character.
The interesting thing is that this precious wood only forms through extreme pressure and weight.
Something I have learned in growing trees, teaching students and just generally in life is that no matter how well prepared you are, or how well you protect yourself challenges will come.
My prayer for the Graduating Class of 2016 is that when those challenges come their way and the pressure is on, they will realise that God is with them and rather than running from a challenge they will meet it head on – with God. I pray that in overcoming their challenges, like a tree forms the fiddle-back grain, they will become stronger and develop a character that is sought after by many.