Reflecting on Growth….

I spent most of last morning walking around our yard. We have an acre of oaks, and six of our ancient trees need to be felled. Yet what we see above the ground represents far less of the tree than what exists below the ground. So I was drawn to this photo of tree roots, taken by my friend Cecilia on one of their family hikes. I was struck by how the roots branch out so quickly and in such straight lines. This system of roots creates an extremely strong foundation for the trunk. The weight of the tree is distributed, so each of the roots shares the load. While the tree’s branches gently curve to offer the leaves the most sun, these roots go straight for the water and nutrients found in the soil. Even when the leaves fall, the roots silently continue their work. We often talk about times in our lives when we were challenged and stretched beyond our limits. These stressful intervals are described as periods of growth and learning. Yet I wonder if the true growth happens afterward. When we are overwhelmed, it is often difficult to understand what we are going through, let alone what it means to us. We simply put one foot in front of the other, and do what we need to do. What appears to be heroic or honorable behavior to others is simply a response to a heartfelt need, an almost instinctive action born out of love and firm commitment. Only afterwards do we understand how that time has changed us, molded us. During periods of quiet reflection and rest, we come to understand who we are now, and what really happened to us. As we integrate that experience into our current situation, a new normal emerges, stronger and wiser than our lives before the crisis. Take time today to reflect on past challenges, and understand how that experience is woven into the fabric of your daily life. Offer to help a loved one weathering a storm, to make their current situation a little less overwhelming. And remember, like those ancient oaks, that the roots are always there, continuing their work, no matter how barren the tree may appear. Photo by Cecilia Carr

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