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GO: PLANT A TREE. HAVE A CHILD. WRITE A BOOK. Š 2013 by Bishop Oscar V. Cruz, JCD Published and distributed by Paulines Publishing House Daughters of St. Paul 2650 F. B. Harrison Street 1300 Pasay City, Philippines E-mail: Website: Cover design: Desktype Asia Design Studio All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher. 1st printing 2013 ISBN 978-971-590-743-9

at the service of the Gospel and culture

CONTENTS Presentation


PART 1: “GO: PLANT A TREE.” Foreword


Article 1: Nature of a Tree


Article 2: Origin of a Tree


Article 3: Rationale of a Tree


Article 4: Land without Trees


Article 5: My Tree Planting


PART 2: “GO: HAVE A CHILD.” Foreword


Article 1: Premises of Having a Child


Article 2: Connotations of a Child


Article 3: Transcendence of a Child


Article 4: World without Children


Article 5: My Having Children


PART 3: “GO: WRITE A BOOK.” Foreword


Article 1: Purpose of a Book


Article 2: Import of a Book


Article 3: Process of Book Writing


Article 4: World without Books


Article 5: My Book Writing




Presentation There must be more than a million and one sayings, most of which are premised on ground realities or supernal aspirations, anchored on various cultural factors or different value systems. The sayings – expressions, axioms, proverbs–forward standing truths, precious lessons and/or good reminders. Some of them make us laugh at first and thereafter move us to think – or the other way around. There are definitely sayings that are more profound than their wordings, more significant than their face value. This brings to mind a thought-provoking saying I have been reflecting on for some time. Who said it, I do not know. Why it reached me, I have no idea. How I came to know it, I do not remember. One thing though is certain: There are sayings or maxims that are very profound in content as well as rather significant in consequences. This book is all about a particular saying or life guiding principle that really made a big difference in both my personal and public life. You will then understand that this publication is some kind of a mini-autobiography – even if the basic intention behind it is to promote the saying as something worth considering and thereafter duly acting upon. I do not know if you already heard the saying, if you took it seriously and thereafter deliberately acted on it. This I can say with all sincerity and candor: I came across the saying. I thought about it. I was convinced of the truth behind it. And the rest is history. 7



“Go: Plant a tree. Have a child. Write a Book.” So goes the saying. To this day I do not know if the “Go” carried the composite agenda it says – or any one of the three would be enough to do. Frankly, it was in my early adulthood that I heard it said. And it was also around that period of my life that I became more and more convinced of its objective and inherent significance. That conviction made me act accordingly. But its actual observance slowly and gradually came about when I likewise slowly and gradually found the occasion and the time to concretize the conviction. Needless to say, young adults have many preoccupations, not to mention a good number of problems, doubts, and questions about themselves as well as about the people around them, plus the world before them. And there is some kind of a marching order in terms of “Go” – about trees, children and books. Frankly, there were definitely better things to do. Surely, there are more urgent matters to attend to. And as far as I was then concerned, there were so many agenda I wanted to attend to – other than that particular “Go.” ii “Go: Plant a tree.” Why?! My thoughts then were the following: Trees were all over – in cities and provinces, in urban as well as rural areas, in the fields and by the waysides. Trees were trees, and that was it. Thus it was that I looked at trees as trees – nothing more, maybe less. Sure, I knew that they provided shade from the warm rays of the sun. But I was also well aware of the fact that they drop a good amount of dead leaves all over the place.



“Go: Have a child.” Really?! There were children here and there. They came in all sizes and weights. They were but masters in crying and eating. Poor mothers – they took care of them from sun-up to sun-down. Pitiful fathers – they worked, sweat, and toil to support them. And the children were not even aware of the expression “Thank you!” When wet, they had to be dried. When dirty, they had to be cleaned. “Go: Write a book.” What?! Even the mere mention of the word “book” was enough to make young people look the other way. I, too, used to hold the opinion that books were better placed and kept in dusty and even ghostly libraries. It was fun to see this and that sight, to watch what was taking place here and there, to listen to so many sounds and beats. But to write a book – this was for those who had nothing better to do. In other words, when I first heard the saying about trees, children, and books, all these were then irrelevant to my thoughts and aspirations, to my plan and agenda. But as I grew in age – not necessarily in wisdom – the saying slowly but surely became more interesting and intriguing. No, I did not take the saying seriously but thought of it curiously. No, I did not understand its significance and import but considered it as interesting enough. Yes, the saying did not simply leave my consciousness but continued to linger therein. Yes, it gradually took root in my sub-consciousness as I became older. When, why, and how? Making some kind of a reverse move in my rather uninteresting, long life span, if I remember right – and I think I do – the saying progressively caught my attention and resolve during my seminary studies in theology. It told and reminded



me of realities which I simply took for granted. There in the seminary, I beheld a good number of big and imposing trees that were amazing to behold and admirable to contemplate. There too, I came to love, admire, and laugh at the antics of little children whom seminary visitors brought along with them. And there as well, I frequently saw, stared at, and admired rows upon long rows of books of all conceivable sizes, weights, and ages in the seminary library. Such a threefold empirical factor started to make me think more and to take more seriously the contents and implications of the saying. iii Now that I am old – very old – I am now committing into writing what the saying progressively did to me and what I accordingly did about it, how I gradually understood it and likewise progressively acted on it. It is interesting to note that the saying even followed some kind of a rational sequence in their realization: First, planting a tree is both for the young and the old. Second, having a child is reserved to adults. Third, writing a book is envisioned for those who have already seen enough and experienced much, who have somehow learned some things about the world and about people, and who would like to offer to others their thoughts, opinions and convictions about them. Read on – please! O. V. Cruz, JCD

PART I “GO: PLANT A TREE.” Foreword A. Old Testament: “Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden which is in the east, and there He put the man He has fashioned. Yahweh God caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree...” (Genesis 2:9) God, tree, man: This is the sequence of the progressive significance that can be readily observed and noted in the abovecited Scripture narrative. In other words: God is the absolute priority. Tree is a subsequent imperative in the order of nature. The human being is the ultimate crowning glory of the whole creation. In other words: There is God first. Then, there is the tree planted by God. And finally, there is the human being fashioned and placed by God in a garden with every kind of tree. This is definitely not meant to undermine the intrinsic nobility of the human being. It simply intended to show the history of creation as perceived and narrated by the Sacred Books. Based on no less than the sacred Scriptures as cited above, it is but right and proper to bring to the fore the following fundamental questions: First, that without God, can there be either tree or human being? Second, that without trees, how will the human being live and survive? Third, that without trees and human being, will the glory and might of God be known 11



at all? Thus it is that so close and intimate is the relational binding among the trio of God, tree, and human being that one automatically presumes and connotes the other two – as per intriguing scriptural narration. The reality of the tree is what joins together the greatness of God and the nobility of the human being. The fact of trees is the bridge that connects God and the human being. The intrinsic significance of trees precisely rests in their existence as an introductory phenomenon to the coming of the human being as willed and designed by God their Maker Himself. No, this does not mean that without trees, God would not be able to bring the human being into existence. Yes. The fact remains that, as recorded by the Book of Genesis – the narration of the dynamic origin of the entire universe – the planting of trees preceded the coming of the human being. No, this in no way means that trees are more valuable than the human being, that trees have precedence in intrinsic value over or above the human being. Yes, this merely points to the reality that trees came first before the human being, whereas the human being needs them in order to live according to the demands of human nature. B. New Testament: “He put another parable before them. ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown, it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.”’ (Matthew 13:31) The above narrative of the New Testament is not only interesting but also priceless, not simply impressive but likewise

PART I – “Go: Plant a Tree.”


outstanding. Among its more signal and incisive contents, the following references are worth citing and pondering upon: 1. It is a parable about the Kingdom of Heaven. A parable is an allegorical story, a lesson-bearing tale. Needless to say, it is not only a human impossibility but also a rational futility to say straightforward and define the essence and implications of the Kingdom of Heaven. This does not mean though that wise men cannot and will not attempt to do so. But an attempt – no matter how skillful and sincere – remains an attempt. It is quite inappropriate to believe and/or expect: (a) That someone finite would really know and say what is infinite, that what is limited could actually fathom and speak about something unlimited. (b) That the Kingdom of Heaven – its essential constitution and substantive import – is beyond the full reach and understanding of the human being. (c) That the use of parables is the usual recourse of human beings to speak about God as well as about the Kingdom of Heaven. 2. The narrative makes reference to a tiny mustard seed. The use of contrary realities properly brings to the fore their respective significance and implications. The limitless reach and scope of the Kingdom of Heaven placed side by side with the smallest seed known, in effect emphasizes the great infinitude of the former and the humble finitude of the latter. Their contrast says and implies their respective nature and reach.



In other words: First, although there is nothing more precious than the Kingdom of Heaven, this does not really take away the value of even just a little mustard seed; Second, the magnitude of the Kingdom of heaven becomes somehow imaginable by contrasting it with a teeny-weeny size of a mustard seed; Third, the relevance of even just a tiny mustard seed is precisely better appreciated when used to emphasize the greatness of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let it be categorically pointed out that the ingrained significance of a mustard seed becomes more specifically expressed and demonstrated upon its growth as a big, mighty shrub. The potential contained in the tiny mustard seed that becomes a tree that is strong in its bearing and wide in its reach, is expressed in a threefold way: First, it produces many and strong branches. Second, as such, it thus serves well as a safe refuge. Third, it becomes a ready sanctuary to small and helpless birds. 3. The narrative notes the pro-active intervention of the human being. Unlike in the sequence of their creation in the Old Testament that God first brought trees to existence and only thereafter did He make the human being, in the New Testament, the human being had to take an initiative in sowing the mustard seed in order for this to become a tree. Thus it is that: (a) It is unconscionable for human beings to altogether leave everything in this big wide world to the providence and care of God.

PART I – “Go: Plant a Tree.”


(b) It is to their own pitiful loss and self-depreciation when human beings do not use their intellectual and volitional faculties for their own good. (c) It is rather evident that after God Himself made trees to sprout and grow, it is up to human beings to plant and care for them thereafter. 4. The narrative emphasizes the prominence and relevance of trees. The profound significance and expansive bearing of a huge tree are taught and emphasized when it describes nothing less than the spiritual reality of God’s Kingdom with the following more eminent features: One, its humble self-appreciation is seen in the image of the “smallest” of all— the “mustard” seed. Two, its greatness is compared to the “biggest shrub” when it attains full stature. Three, its security is pictured by the “branches” of the tree, in which there is nothing that can hurt the human being. 5. The narrative forwards the vastness and finality of the Kingdom of Heaven through the following primary lessons: First, the Kingdom is not meant as something merely existing for itself. Rather, it is intended for the human being to go to and stay in. Second, the Kingdom is not only intended as a point of arrival or final destination. It is also a safe haven for human being to take refuge in.



Third, the Kingdom is not only big enough to receive the whole of humanity but also safe for humanity as a whole to go to and stay at. C. Human Wisdom: “Poems are made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.” The human being has eventually come to realize the innate and ingrained value of every tree – considering that no less than God Himself is the Maker of trees. As previously noted, in the Old Testament God directly made a tree as the first reality, thereafter followed by the human being which God fashioned in his own image. In the above-cited expression of secular human wisdom, the relationship between God and a tree is once again concluded and emphasized. While in the actual order of nature, it is the human being who sows the seeds, it is still God Who makes them sprout, grow, and become trees. This is not really an exaggeration but a downright truth. After all, considering that the soil plus the water and the sun that make seeds sprout, grow, and become trees, are all the means whereby trees come to the fore, are created by God. One thing is certain, it is not the human being who brought the said soil, water, and sun into their respective being, nature and finality. There is no pietism in the above observation as to the Maker of the soil, the water, and sun. Neither is there but spiritualism in it. It is definitely difficult and even incongruous to even but nurture the opinion that the human being is their maker. The human being merely uses them, which readily presumes their existence prior to the human being’s coming to life. The ultimate solid and valid conclusion after all is that “…only God

PART I – “Go: Plant a Tree.”


can make a tree.” There is God and His singular wisdom and omnipotence. There is a poet and the poems he wrote. And there is the tree with its singular features and attributes. Article One: Nature of a Tree Trees and question marks: What are trees essentially? What are the constitutional elements of trees? What makes trees what they are in the sphere of nature? Are there trees which are in fact not trees, and are there apparently non-tree looking plants which are really trees? In other words, simply asked, what are trees? Is there a scientific notion and/or definition of the nature of trees? And what could this be? Truth to tell, I really do not know the direct and proper answers to such questions in the realm of either philosophy or science. I can look for and read publications that can probably answer such questions. But this is not the central point of this article – in addition to the probability that such philosophical and/or scientific inquiry might only turn the very practical matter about trees into an academic exercise, and therefore, merely speculative in scope. Thus it is that the nature of a tree is hereunder addressed in the realm of down-to-earth realities rather than in the sphere of “Cloud 9,” as commonly said when something is addressed but contemplatively. While the reality and significance of trees are actually taken into consideration by the Sacred Scriptures themselves, such a treatment is precisely done in the context of the practical significance and implications of the reality of trees. All these bring to the fore the following points:

Go: Plant a Tree, Have a Child, Write a Book  

A collection of sayings that make us laugh at first and thereafter move us to think – or the other way around. There are definitely sayings...

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