One of the greatest life lessons I ever learned was taught to me by the gentle rice farmers of Vietnam. I have traveled into nearly every province of Vietnam helping them rebuild their health care delivery systems. They would explain to me "Don't judge each day by the harvest of rice you scythe, but by the seedlings that you plant."
In the verdant stretches of Phu Tho province, north of Hanoi, tradition holds that the patient peasants learned how to perfect the skill of domestic cultivation of rice over 4,000 years ago. They learned they could grow three simultaneous crops each year by staggering the planting calendar. It was there that the method of "puddling" was perfected, where the internal structure of the soil was manipulated, so that there would be a minimal loss of water through percolation. Then they discovered that by transplanting "clums" of one- to six-week-old rice seedlings into the flooded soil of the paddies, they could out-smart the weeds and rodents, and thus greatly increase their production of the rice by giving the seedlings a head start.
Of course, there were efficient methods of tending and harvesting that were developed over the centuries. But, intuitively, the Asians came to supremely respect the ritual of the planting: "Don't judge each day by the harvest of rice you scythe, but by the seedlings you plant." They knew that the maturation, growth and harvest would be there, as sure as the rising sun, if they had been faithful and diligent in their responsibility of properly planting the seedlings.
Many times in the early days of giving birth to Project C.U.R.E., I would become tired to the bone and tempted with discouragement. We were always planting, planting, planting. Where were the results of the garnered donations of medical supplies and pieces of medical equipment? Where were the anticipated good results of all the dangerous travels and meetings and volunteer hours and efforts?
Our present culture does not just suggest, but rather compels us to go directly to the "bottom line" as the single criterion of our worth and value . . . "What is the size of your harvest, today?" But, instead, let your success be judged by your diligence and faithfulness in continuing to plant the seedlings, and the harvest will take care of itself.
Today, I revel in the knowledge that thousands and thousands of lives around the world are being saved right now through the seedlings that were planted over the past 25 years at Project C.U.R.E. The fact that I can plant a "clum" of rice seedlings today that will soon become a harvest, and the fact that I can plant a bit of knowledge in the hearts and minds of others and it becomes their very own, and the fact that I can give a joyful smile to another and receive another in return, gives me the absolute assurance that the law of the planting and the harvest is valid and real.
If you are tempted today to be discouraged because the culture has pressured you to judge each day by the harvest you captured . . . look up, take a deep breath and realize that the only factor that will absolutely guarantee that you will not realize a rewarding harvest is if you neglect the diligent planting of the tender seedlings!"Don't judge each day by the harvest you scythe, but by the seedlings you plant."