My Life with God

The Community Root

I’m not an arborist. However, I appreciate the beauty of trees, and over the years, I’ve been amazed and intrigued by many facts I’ve learned.

Aspens are one of my favorite trees. When I first started spending time in Colorado, their stark, slender, marked trucks marveled me, as well as their constantly fluttering leaves. Fall is my favorite, when millions of small golden leaf-wings flutter in the groves.

Their roots are shallow, yet together they stand tall, because they are connected. Their root systems build the community. They are reliant on each other. They grow well even among the rocky terrain, because the root runs just below the surface and pushes new shoots through the ground above. They are able to thrive in dry conditions because of their interconnected root system. From a plant perspective, aspens qualify to be considered invasive.

They remind me of the communities we build among ourselves as Christians.

  • We rely on each other.
  • We are strikingly beautiful in revealing light.
  • We are stable yet always moving or ready to move with the whisper of a breeze.
  • We (have the ability to) grow well even through trials.
  • We (hopefully) grow new shoots, always encouraging others.
  • We are invasive.

Our invasiveness can be positive and productive or destructive. It can be experienced as nourishing or decomposing, life-giving or life-draining. What we intend and what others experience are not always congruent.

It is important for us to never let the beauty of what we see and experience masquerade what decomposition might be happening within us—in each of us individually as well as the community, because we are all tied together. We should always tend to the source of the beauty and health, because if we only focus on what we think or how our groves appear, we will overlook the critical tending of what is below the surface.

The unique beauty of the networks of the aspens are stunning. Their connectiveness is inspiring. Their potential is abundant. May we never take such communities for granted and lose the connections of beauty we have.

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