We can learn a lot about how to treat others from stories that have been passed from generation to generation.

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Elizabeth (Betsy) LaVela
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Dear Future Grandchild,

When God told Moses he was standing on Holy Ground and that he needed to remove his sandals, Moses immediately acted. He didn’t hesitate. Take a minute now to feel the ground under your feet. Now consider this… you are treading on God’s holy ground! It took over 50 years to produce the topsoil under your feet. And at the rate at which topsoil is disappearing on this planet, the topsoil under your feet is indeed most precious.

Walking tends to make me thirsty. Go pour yourself a glass of water. Sip slowly. Would the water taste differently if I told you that you were sipping holy water? Many children have told me that if they were indeed drinking holy water that it probably would taste very special indeed. How would you care for your water if it was indeed holy? We can’t know exactly where your water has been but it’s possible that indeed at one time it was used for a holy purpose. Fresh water is a gift from a holy God – a gift to be thankful for and a gift worthy of our highest praises. Our lives depend on refreshing water. All living things require water. It takes more water to grow our food than it does to quench our thirst– but water is an absolute necessity.

I have planted a tree in your honor even before you were born. Each of us needs to plant at least five trees to counteract our impact on the planet’s resources. Trees clean the air, clean our water, store carbon and provide many other benefits for those in close proximity. Certain trees attract certain critters just as certain bird seed mixes attract specific kinds of birds. It is my sincere hope that you will, in time, also plant trees for the next generation of the family. It’s a family tradition.

The air we breathe is also precious. Do not take clean air for granted. During my lifetime I have experienced choking smog in Bangkok, Thailand, and in Los Angeles, California where the air was so thick with pollutants that it seemed like a heavy fog. I have also been in Hong Kong on a day when people were advised to wear masks because of the heavy level of pollutants in the air. In fact, we were advised not to go outside unless it was absolutely necessary. That dirty air was a signal that we had not been caring properly for our ocean nor had we been planting enough trees. Americans like to point to the five largest plastic polluters of the oceans as the culprits but all who use plastics contribute to the problems of plastic clogging up our oceans.

We can learn a lot about how to treat others from stories that have been passed from generation to generation. The story that resonates with me is one told in Jewish families. In case you are wondering why your grandmother, a Christian children’s pastor, is retelling a Jewish story let me gently remind you that Jesus was born into a Jewish family and was a rabbi! A young man had come of age, was recently married and had been trained to take over the family business. His father was retiring, handling over both his home and his business to his son. The young man’s family moved into the home leaving the old man to find his way elsewhere. Years later the old man returned to his son’s home where he was greeted by his grandson who had never met him previously. He asked his grandson for a blanket. The young boy ran up to the attic. There he found a blanket which he began very carefully cutting in half. As he ran down to give his grandfather the half blanket, his father stopped him and asked what he was doing. He told his dad that the man at the door claimed he was his grandfather and that he had asked for a blanket. Then he told his dad that he was giving his grandfather half of the blanket and saving the other half for the day when he would take over from his dad. Hearing this, his dad ran to greet his own father and welcomed him back into his home. May you always have room in your heart for family and receive them as you would like to be received.

We have been given one planet. Do your part to safeguard the resources that sustain life- the planet’s water, its soil and its air. Walk or ride a bike where possible, and eat sensibly a diet that is heavily plant based. Then you will be able to send a letter to your grandchildren as well.

With love and hope in you,
Grandmother LaVela (Betsy LaVela)

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