Why Deep Roots Matter
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
It’s called The Big Oak.
My Georgia hometown’s most popular tourist attraction. After all, this southern live oak tree dates back to 1680 and is currently 68 feet tall and has a limb span of 165 feet.
It is also where my mother was born 89 years ago TODAY, at the home of my great-grandparents Chastain who lived there from 1906-1966.
The tree is magnificent. The heavy limbs are now held steady by support cables and an underground watering system as well as an above ground sprinkler system all work together to maintain health and endurance. It is preserved as a landmark of the International Society for Agriculture.
But it’s the roots that tell the full story.
A mature live oak can have roots that spread underground totaling hundreds of miles. The system is intricate and interwoven. At the beginning of an oak’s life, when an acorn first sprouts, most of its energy is spent on root development, with little growth aboveground. The initial root is the taproot, which grows deep underground, seeking a dependable supply of moisture. Once this is accomplished, greater foliage and branch growth can begin.
Standing next to the Big Oak I am reminded: “So live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him. Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
I know that Paul was emphasizing that the only way we can grow strong and endure the storms of life is if we have a deep root system. Planted in the soil of God’s love. Watered by His grace. Strengthen in adversity. Providing shelter for others in on the way. And extending quite a reach to a hurting world.
How’s your spiritual root system thriving these days?
As a southerner, family roots are important. And since mine started here, I return with Mama during her ninth decade. As we walk over to the trunk, she reminds me of her own mother playing in the center of that huge tree which was already at least 200-years-old at the time. Mama also played dolls in the Big Oak whenever she visited her grandparents’ home. We have the faded black and white photos.
“It breaks my heart to see the tree looking so old and worn out,” she says.
When I hear these words, I sigh… I feel the same way about her.
Walking along the heavy-laden branches, Mama – ever the master gardener — points out the lush Resurrection Fern growing out of the limbs. She explains this phenomenon. “Most of the time, Cindy, these leaves are brown and brittle. But when it rains they become green and vibrant and full of life. That’s why this is called Resurrection Fern – it comes back to life if given nourishment and attention.”
How true for people as well as leaves on an ancient oak.
We may (we will) experience those dry times of pain, disappointment and weariness. We may often feel that life is over and we have nothing left to give. I suppose an elderly widow might be tempted to think that at times, don’t you?
But the truth is that God is always our Sustenance, our Source. When He looks at us, he sees “a planting of the Lord as a display of His splendor” (Isaiah 61.3) The rain comes and we drink it in. And we, too, are resurrected.
Cherish your roots.
under the mercy, Cindy