Reflections on Service

The following post comes from Alan Jones, one of the Timberland service sabbatical recipients who spent a week in Louisiana last month working on a large-scale restoration project.  Turns out, the project’s impact extends far beyond the wetlands where Alan and his companions worked:

Since returning from the sabbatical, friends and family have asked me to explain the experience and how it impacted me.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to express it in a way that does justice, and I don’t know if I ever will.

Imagine this:

Get off a plane and shake hands with 30 or so faces you’ve never met.

Spend the next 8 days and nights with these people in comfortable (but tight) quarters.

Meet locals and taste the flavor of an incredible culture deep in the Mississippi Delta and swamplands and learn that the fastest land erosion in the world is happening in your country and at the rate of 2 football fields every hour.

Learn that 40% of our fishing industry is supported by this eroding ecosystem, and that one small nonprofit has been given the green light by the government to make it better.

Spend the rest of the week working with a team to rebuild a 5-acre site that will protect another 20 acres of marshland from saltwater intrusion and land loss.

Learn that this project is the largest implementation of it’s kind, and if successful will serve as the pilot program and catalyst for future restoration efforts.

Connect to people and land in a way you did not think possible, then bid them farewell, knowing that although you knew them not for long, you knew them well.

Realize that, in addition to the thousands of trees and grasses planted in the bayou, there is something unexpected growing inside upon your return.

What did I take away from this sabbatical?

to plant.

to grow.

to laugh.

to live.

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