Two weeks ago, I shared that my word for the year is remain and that it arose out of Jesus’ metaphor of the branch and the vine. Last week I shared that one of those breadcrumbs is the image of a buoy. This week, I’d like to share another breadcrumb: the image of a tree, deeply rooted in rich soil.
One of my favorite prayers in the Bible is the prayer Paul prays for the Ephesians.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19
I love the image of being rooted and established in God’s all surpassing love. What a truly freeing and sustaining foundation for our daily lives!
I wrote recently about my fascination with trees and how watching them as they lose their leaves reminds me that letting go is a necessary and natural part of life:
The roots grow down and down, far below the surface, deep into darkness where all that has fallen away and died has seeped in and enriched the soil to feed the tree.
Where the roots are planted determines what nutrition the tree takes in. A tree planted by water looks very different from a tree planted in the desert. Consider how different the evergreen is from the maple, the willow from the joshua. The soil influences the health of their branches, leaves, and flowers or fruit. In fact, the quality and makeup of the soil even helps determine what kind of tree is capable of surviving in it.
Trees are inspiringly resilient. They survive for decades and even centuries despite drought, fire, storms, and human encroachment. Although they may twist and bend with the wind, lose leaves and branches along the way, and bear the battle scars of natural disasters, they survive and even thrive because of their roots. Their roots are strong and deeply embedded in the rich soil–a soil enriched by the natural disasters they manage to escape. On the surface things may look tenuous, but underneath the tree is firmly anchored and grounded.
The Invitation to Remain
And so, my fellow pilgrims, I continue to pray that we would all have the strength of heart and the gentle attention necessary to remain in God’s love no matter what obstacles we encounter on our journey homeward.
As we walk this way together awhile, I’m curious: what grounds you, roots you, and nourishes you from the bottom up? In what are you being invited to remain?