“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-9
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my roots recently. There are the roots of my ancestral heritage, the home I was born into and grew to adulthood . . . parents, siblings and extended family. Then there are the roots of faith which have sustained me in difficult times.
Throughout our lives God brings people into our world who encourage us when we land in arid soil. Looking backwards, we see how God sent just the right person to walk with us at crucial moments, when our future hung in the balance. One was there to guide us when decisions were being made about who we were and whom we would become. We were gifted with compassion, love and wise teachers counseling us in perplexing moments. They nurtured our fledgling roots till we reached deep pools of water.
Howard Thurman writes, “Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and (people) have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!”
In these days of national dysfunction, Thurman reminds us that God is at work in our world still. Setting deep roots is the antidote to despair, especially “when times are out of joint and (people) have lost their reason.’