It is from our roots that we draw sustenance (Maathai 293). Waters of life swirling amidst microorganisms, bitter dirt, and waste. Waters of life rushing, carrying the burdens of the soil, punching at the tenderness of root walls. Flowing, cleansing water pushes through roots, knocking on the tenderest spots of fragile walls. Tapping, drumming, pounding until a gush of water springs out, rising to the surface of the underground story. Reservoirs of grace made of flowing, cleansing water are life-givers to the tree that rushes up to the sky to proclaim the story of the underground.
Roots burrowed deeply in soil packed with nourishment signify the connectivity of the Giver and Receiver. The Giver of life penetrated by the Receiver of sustenance. In this moment of interconnectedness is home, safety, and warmth. Imagine being a root surrounded by the very necessity of your survival. Imagine snuggling up amidst the very source of your life. Imagine the potential of Root sustained by soil flourishing into Tree bursting up out of the ground.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine” (John 15:4). The story of burrowing down into shelter and rising up in fruitful proclamation is the story of root to tree top.
To burrow is to snuggle up, to get comfortable, so that receiving from the vine becomes the only source of movement or change. To rise up is to proclaim the experience of burrowing.
Burrowing and fruiting are gifts of life to the Receiver; the gift is the responsibility.
What happens to one happens to all. We can starve together or feast together. All flourishing is mutual (Kimmerer 15). Mutual sustenance prunes away selfish ambition. It is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit (John 15:8). The gift of fruit-bearing insists on a tangled up and indistinguishable mess of mutual flourishing.
In Wangari Maathai’s Epilogue, she reflects of the importance of trees throughout her life. It tells us that in order to aspire we need to be grounded, and that no matter how high we go it is from our roots that we draw sustenance…It signifies that no matter how powerful we become… our power and strength and our ability to reach our goals depend on the people…who are the soil out of which we grow” (Maathai 293).
To be grounded in the depths of soil and nourished by the rushing of water through my thin walls is the gift that pulls me toward flourishing.
My mom visited me this past week and I got to show her the place that I’ve begun to give a sliver of my “Home” pie to. Throughout college, I’ve realized that home is more than just a place, but mostly people. As I experience growth in Oregon, I have expanded my “Home” pie to include a new place and a few new friends. In my homesickness, I have been reluctant to expand my circle of loved ones because of contentment with relationships I already had.
The fact that this experience is temporary has not been far from my mind. I have used this as a shield for vulnerability and as a hesitancy in giving space for more people to love and be loved by.
Our cohort spent 2 days on the Oregon coast (and stopped by the Redwoods!) and this trip allowed me the openness and the encouragement to find space for the possibility of life-long friendships that are (rightly) common in this place. A specific moment I will cherish is sitting on a rock by the Pacific Ocean, thinking about the qualities of water that my pastor instills in me each baptism he celebrates. It goes, baptism is a visible sign of an invisible grace. The sign is water and we use water because it cleanses and refreshes and gives life. We use water because Jesus said, “I am living water”. The water points to the promise; God’s promise to forgive us our sins, to send the Spirit to us day after day, and to bring us into a whole new family.
As I sat on a rock, contemplating these words, talking to God, and listening to the waters rush over the sand, I began to praise God for my new friends Sophia and Cait. I thanked God for their resilience in opening me up, in showing me love, and in being examples of life lived in joy. As I was speaking these words over them, a wave crashed over the rock I was sitting on and washed over me completely. At that moment, I was filled with joy and connection with my completely joyful friends. We proceeded to frolic in the waters like we were 6 years old again.