Reflecting on Roots….

Growing in the Dark by Kitty BuckwalterWe have spent too many weekends away from home. I have lost track of the groceries and onions are ending up in the trash rather than in my favorite recipe. It seems we forget that the things we tuck away, the things we prefer to forget, things that still grow in the dark. All of us have parts of ourselves we wish did not exist. We hide them away from others, and ourselves. It seems so much easier to push aside our less perfect parts and show a smiling face to the world. Yet whether we like it or not, whether we pay attention or not, the hidden side of us continues to grow in the shadows. Our prim and proper exterior is penetrated by roots that continue to grow and seek out the light. In younger years, I thought I had the lid locked down tight. I was convinced I could be whole by simply picking and choosing the parts of my personality that suited me best. Over the years, I have learned the rejected side of me lashes out when locked away. If I choose to ignore all of who I am, the shadow simply bites me in the butt at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected places. What do we do with the onions of our souls? I have learned to take out one onion at a time. I cut it up and shed a few tears. I take what could harm me and fold it into a new and exotic dish. That part of me needs love and caring more than the parts I parade around for others to see. I need to take time to care for myself, to stretch and grow, by allowing the Holy Spirit to bring those old hurts into the light. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. Yes, it hurts. But at least in the light that suffering leads to new growth and greater understanding. Matthew 5:48 tell us to ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect’, yet the word for perfect is better translated as whole or complete. Make time today to nurture old wounds and long forgotten memories. Allow silence to sink into your soul and anchor your heart in the safe and abiding love of God. Invite the light of Christ into even the darkest corners, trusting a healing has been prepared for you. And always remember, if we take out just one onion at a time, in God’s time not ours, God will slowly and surely perfect us and make us whole.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2015

Photo entitled ‘Growing in the Dark’ by Kitty Buckwalter ©2015

Reflecting on Help….

Barely Hanging On by Mike Victorino

The weather has been all over the place lately. This morning is bright and clear, yet cold enough for a frost warning. We can’t seem to catch a break. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Mike, of a tree that is barely hanging on. It’s been a wet spring and we have all sorts of erosion in our area. It’s tough to undercut a large oak, especially one rooted in Virginia clay. It takes more than one storm, and standing water. So I would wager this grand old tree has weathered way too many storms. I don’t know about you, but there are days, even weeks, when I feel like this tree. I find myself doubting what I’ve always been certain about, no longer confident of what I do know and what I don’t know. Nothing I say or do seems quite right. I’m lost and alone in a foreign land. Yet I haven’t gone anywhere. I’m still in my own home, with my family and friends. It’s easy to lash out at times like these, to blame it on everyone else. You just don’t understand, you don’t get it, leave me alone. But of course, being alone is the last thing I want. Perhaps I have watched too many Hollywood movies, and I expect to be chased down and dramatically snapped out of it. At least in my life, that is usually not the case. I end up alone and feeling worse than ever. I have distanced myself from those who care for me the most, those who can best help and support me in this blue funk. I cannot bear up under my burdens, real or perceived, on my own. When life undercuts my roots, my very core, I can only remain standing if I cling to those I love best. I can only make it through with the help and encouragement of those who know me best. Make time today to ask others to abide with you, to accept comfort in the midst of your pain. Open your heart when it seems easier to clamp it shut, listen when you would rather talk, pray when you would rather turn your back on God. Trust the same Lord that created our entire universe in an instant to abide with you in your time of need, to guide your footsteps and guard your heart. And always remember, no matter how much life undercuts your roots, the Alpha and Omega remains with you, your strong and sure foundation. Text by Connie Chintall ©2013, Photo entitled ‘Barely Hanging On’ by Mike Victorino ©2013, All Rights Reserved. To see more of his work, go to http://mikevictorinophotography.wordpress.com/

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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