* Image shared by Mike Chitwood – Facebook

“Not watering plants costs us trees. Not watering the souls of one another with love costs us lives.” Nil

When I look at this photograph I am reminded by our creator of so many things. I am reminded to plant hope.

This picture was taken by law enforcement describing a tree impacted by bullets. A living tree saved the life of an officer(s) while on the line of duty. A living thing saved the life of another living thing and consequently both continued to live. These officers found themselves in a complicated situation. An altercation where two children whom were carrying automatized weapons were attempting to take the lives of others while also risking loosing their own lives. The same weapons they were carrying are the same weapons that shoot over 500 rounds per minute. That is a lot of potential to harm. Tough situation. Tough tree.

Blame does us nothing and pointing fingers to what one assumes is the best answer to such does not serve us either. I don’t know what the best public policy reform or new implementation of such would work best. We could sit here and analyze and wonder whom failed us in this moment? Was it the parents, was it the gun store, was it our legislators, was it teachers, was it the pediatrician, was it the psychiatrist/psychologist or lack thereof, was it the video games, was it poverty, was it trauma, was it mean kids, was it bullying, was it substance abuse, was it boredom, was it a combination of all or some parts? I don’t know and I’m sure you probably don’t know either. I am extremely certain it may have been due to not watering the souls of one another with love.

I know one thing for sure though. Fighting violence with more violence will leave us all dead. The same way that playing music and saying kind things to plants make them grow. Same goes for humans. It will require all of us to avoid such horrendous scenario from happening again. It will require team work. It will require a collective impact approach. Taking personal and social responsibility will move us forward. There is no simplified answer to such complicated scenario, but all of us can put in our two cents to move us forward. The answer is multi folded. Nobody wants such scenario to repeat itself. Nobody wins in such panorama.

Perhaps the following would help… better support for families (parents), parenting support classes, better mental health access, stricter background checks for gun access, more training for gun storing, for the love of God and all living things less of a need for automatized weapons, better education, more support for front line workers, more support for law enforcement community diversion programs and officers, more funding for social services, more SEL curriculums in our schools, more volunteering/mentorships, more gardens/trees, more values anchored in our curriculums and our homes — ultimately more love for one another. And let us not forget that by teaching children and adults a respect towards that which is living (nature); subsequently we also encourage them to respect other human lives. We must get better at loving one another. For now I leave you with this prayer.

May we plant hope.

May we plant more love.

May we plant less violence.

May we plant more unity.

May we plant less apathy.

May we plant more gardens and trees.

May adults grow up.

May children have a chance to see the sun and be showered with love.

May children have less access to guns.

May we stand a fighting chance.

May we love and tend to all living things.

May we fail each other less.

May we care more.

And may we remember children are the trees of our tomorrow.


God Bless,



  • Nilmarie

    Resiliency Enthusiast, Realtor, Mom, Community Developer...

    Thrive Global Contributor

    About The Author “I’m a little pencil in the hand of God who is sending a love letter to the world…” Mother Theresa Nilmarie Zapata inspires, ignites and holds others and herself accountable.  Primarily, Nilmarie advocates for individuals to choose love at home, work and community via peace and unity building and does so via distinct platforms. Zapata is a certified trainer in the Community Resiliency Model via the Trauma Resource Institute and is also a Choose Love Ambassador for the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Program. She incorporates such in her function as Realtor and member of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World network. When she is not helping others buy and sell their homes, she enjoys mentoring, being a student of faith, teaching, moving/shaking, developing community, writing and gardening. Nilmarie Zapata is deeply committed to accelerating opportunities and hope for children, organizations, individuals and families. Nilmarie serves as advisor to various non-profit boards, and brings a balanced holistic approach to her leadership style and teachings. Zapata is a writer contributor for Thrive Global, where she shares lessons learned via a recollection of stories around faith, healing, self love, building community, leadership and resilience.  Zapata has over 10 years experience in civic engagement, education, and community building. Previously, she served as Site Director for award winning national youth leadership development program, Public Allies and founded Global Shapers Orlando, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. She is native from Puerto Rico and currently resides in Seminole County, Florida alongside her human and fur family.