Born in the foothill areas with sandy soil and dry climate, I was very content with the life there, for our house was cool in summer and warm in winter, and around it there were big trees, which provided shade for us.
Afterward, as my family had outgrown the house, my grandfather convened a family meeting, and decided to have two of his four sons and their families reside in a privately farmed plots of cropland, a barren land without a tree to shade. No one including my parents, my uncles and aunts wanted to reside there. This is because they worried that it was hard to build houses and that the house would be hot in summer and cold in winter. In seeing such a condition, my grandfather had no choice but to draw straws to decide. As a result, my family and my third uncle’s were unfortunately chosen to live there. We had no alternative but to go there and decided to build a house westward. After the house’s location was fixed, we planned to heap the excavated sandy soil by the roadside and shape it into a mound. However, we were all worried that the sandy soil was loose and so the mound might collapse, thus blocking the ditch in front of the house and the road. But if we used stones and cement to build a wall to keep the mound from collapsing, we would spend too much money and it was not worth it. After thinking it over and over, we finally decided to heaped the excavated soil into a mound and then plant trees on it. If it collapsed in the future, we would take measures. Then, my father and uncle began to heap the excavated soil into a mound. Later, in order to have a shade and keep out the wind, they planted an arrangement of firs and camptotheca acuminatas on it. Meanwhile, they also planted some camptotheca acuminatas along the ditch in front of our house. On the third year, a two-story house, five rooms on either story, had already been built. And the trees around our house also grew taller. Originally it was just a barren land, but now the house were built and everywhere there were green plants full of vitality. Seeing the earth-shaking change, I was filled with hope. After the house was decorated, my uncle’s family chose to live in the northern wing while my family in the southern wing. Later, my uncle planted some mao bamboos and other trees breaking the wind on the north of the house and various fruit trees on the forecourt. My father also planted evergreen camphor trees and firs on the south of the house and various fruit trees in front. Bathed in the sunlight and rainwater, trees thrived day by day. Our home was changing every day …
The second year after we moved into the new house, camptotheca acuminatas around our house grew very tall and other trees also became leafy. In the spring rain period, sometimes the rain kept on day and night. My family all feared that the little hill behind my house would collapse and block the ditch and the road. In the early mornings, my parents would always get up hastily to check it but didn’t find any sign of collapse. As it got warmer and warmer, the trees were coming into leaf and in blossom. When I came before a patch of fruit trees, looking at these glowing and colorful blossoms and smelling their sweet perfume, I felt as if I were in an earthly paradise.
In the heat of summer, birds were twittering in the trees; trees offered shade from the sun so that the chickens and puppies could enjoy a good rest on the cool, loose sandy soil. Sometimes I helped my parents do farm work. In the field, with burning sun above my head and my feet on the hot ground, beads of sweat soaked through my clothes and I felt so dizzy and exhausted that I was nearly about to choke. However, when I came back home and sat under the trees, it seemed as if I came to another world. Because the thick leaves offered shade from the burning sun, the sandy soil under the trees was moist. Having the trees as the shade and breathing the fresh air, suddenly I felt the dizziness, fatigue, and sultriness all disappeared and I didn’t sweat at all. At the moment, a breeze added to my happiness and relaxation.
In autumn, with the weather getting cold, leaves began gradually to fall and all kinds of fruit trees were in ripe fruits, which showed a harvest scene. In winter, the sharp and howling north wind was reduced to a mild breeze through mao bamboos and evergreen trees, so that we didn’t feel too cold. Trees not only brought us the beautiful scenes and delicious fruits but, as a shade in summer and a windshield in winter, sheltered us from the wind and heat. Seeing these trees grow and change with regularity according to the weather and our needs, I couldn’t help but sigh with emotion: The trees were so wonderful and brought us so much benefit and enjoyment. As the years went by, the little hill behind my house never collapsed. We thought the house built on this barren land would be hot in the summer and cold in the winter. But unexpectedly, the trees around our house absorbed the heat from the sun in summer and blocked the cold wind in winter, which brought us comfort and pleasure.
One summer afternoon, the sun high in the sky, my second aunt dropped in and said to my mother with envy and regret, “We were all unwilling to reside here then. However, in less than a few years, the barren land has turned into an oasis. It’s very cool and comfortable in the house; there are plenty of trees and the air is so fresh; the livestock are well raised here. It’s really better than the old house. Oh well! We never expected that it would be so good….” Afterward one time my sister living in the city came over to our house and lived here for several days. Before she left, she said to me, “These days I have a sound sleep in your house every night. If not for my job, I would live here for a much longer time.” With my aunt’s and sister’s words, I thought to myself: That we can possess this stable and comfortable home today is exchanged with painstaking effort and price of my father and uncle. Afterward, I got married, and I lived in the city. In the populous city, everywhere was concrete roads and there were a few trees. When summer came, we could only use a fan to cool ourselves, but the current air it generated was hot and we didn’t feel comfortable, and it is nowhere near as cool as that under the tree. Once my mother called me to her house for summer, my heart would fly thitherward. When I returned home and sat under the big trees, I couldn’t help thinking of a common sense: “One generation plants the trees in whose shade another generation rests.” In my heart, I thought this beautiful home was built by my father and uncle.
Afterward, I believed in God and saw His words say, “… God’s creation of all things and how He established laws and principles for them. Under such laws and under such principles, all things live and die with man and coexist with man under God’s dominion and in God’s eyes. What did we talk about first? God created all things and used His own methods to set the laws of growth for all things, as well as their growth trajectory and patterns, and also set the ways all things exist on this earth, so that they may live continuously and depend on each other. With such methods and laws, all things are able to successfully and peacefully exist and grow on this land. Only by having such an environment is man able to have a stable home and living environment, and under God’s guidance, continue to develop and move forward, develop and move forward” (“God Himself, the Unique VIII”).
“God is the Master of the rules that control the universe, He controls the rules that govern the survival of all things, and He also controls the universe and all things such that they can live together; He makes it so they do not go extinct or disappear so that mankind may continue to exist, man can live in such an environment through God’s leadership. These rules that govern all things are under the dominion of God, however, mankind cannot intervene and cannot change them; only God Himself knows these rules and only He Himself manages them. When will the trees sprout, when will it rain, how much water and how many nutrients will the earth give the plants, in what season will the leaves fall, in what season will the trees bear fruit, how much energy will the sunlight give the trees, what will the trees exhale from the energy they get from the sunlight—these are all things that God had already arranged when He created the universe and they are laws that cannot be broken by man. The things created by God—whether they are living or appear to be non-living by people—are all in God’s hands and under His dominion. No man can change or break this rule” (“God Himself, the Unique VII”).
From God’s words, I understood that God created the heavens and earth and all things, and that He controls all things, and established the rules of life for them. Each and every thing plays its own function within the laws predestined by God. For example: But that trees deeply rooted into the earth to hold the moisture in the soil, the earth would be baked dry by the fierce heat of the sun and cracked, and soil erosion and collapse would happen on rainy days; likewise without the water and nutrients provided by the earth or sunshine from the sun, trees would not grow and exist. From this, it can be seen that under God’s sovereignty and control, all things created by God live together and depend on each other and each of them plays its own role to bring man a comfortable and stable living environment. Our house was built on the sandy soil, and around it we planted trees. Their roots dug into the earth to prevent soil erosion, and their leaves sheltered us from the wind and heat and offered a natural oxygen bar to us through absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. I deeply felt that God controls the laws of growth of all things and provides mankind with their need, otherwise mankind could not exist on the earth, much less live in such a comfortable environment. It was all because God had already prepared every condition we needed—plants, sunlight, rain and dew and so on and freely bestowed them upon us that we could turn the barren land into an oasis and have a comfortable and stable home. Through God’s creation of all things, I saw that man is incapable of building a stable, comfortable and beautiful home: Only God has such authority and power to bestow on and benefit man. Meanwhile, I knew that only God is the source of life of all things and the foundation and reliance for the existence of mankind. Were it not for the laws set by God for all things, what we mankind face would be the assault of the disasters: Trees would die; mountains would collapse and rivers would burst; animals and man couldn’t exist on the earth. Now I have finally realized: It’s God who bestows a comfortable and stable home on man. It is God’s love and care for man. If God did not silently provide everything we humans need, it could never be achieved by our efforts. I resolve to forever follow and worship God and perform the duty of a created being properly to repay His love!
By Chen Jing
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