Where we live, violent storms are a norm. During the course of a year, we may have multiple violent storms with winds and wind gusts exceeding 30-40 mph. Hurricanes make an appearance, although our protected land area rarely gets a full-brunt, we frequently get the bands with winds reaching 50-60 mph.
Falling trees are also not uncommon. The neighborhood HUSBAND and I live in is covered in magnificent trees of myriad varieties. We have water oaks and white oaks, maples and hickorys and ash and sweetgums and cedars. And we have pines…oh, we have pines. Some of these majestic trees soar over 90 or 100 feet in the air, and during storms, sway madly like dancers responding to the music. Inevitably, after a storm, our region of the state has numerous downed trees, some seemingly ripped out of the ground by the roots.
One summer day, not too long after we moved into our present home, I was in the kitchen on a phone call, blindly looking out the window at the rain which was coming down hard. Suddenly, the rain all blew violently to my left, then just as quickly was all driving hard to the right. I immediately got off the call and dashed into the family room where my four children ran into my arms, all very frightened as they could see the crazy weather and sensed something was different and not-so-right. As we all sat in the floor with our arms wrapped around each other and my mama brain was quickly thinking about safety, I saw an enormous, old tree in our back yard get literally uprooted and begin to fall to the ground. It wasn’t falling toward us, and the children were enveloped in my arms so they did not see my panic, but I waited for the BOOM as I anticipated it hitting the other end of our house.
After the storm, we went outside. The tree had fallen nearly between our home and our neighbor’s house, clipping one edge of our roof and one edge of theirs, but almost as if someone had carefully laid it between so as not to cause too much damage either way. For this, I was grateful. But the uprooted tree was literally shocking – the roots stood in the air well over six feet and the entire, tall, old, majestic tree was lying there. Gone.
We asked our tree professional why this happened. He explained that trees need their roots to grow both wide and deep, and that based on soil and construction and water and other factors, they often fail to go deep…trees with surface roots only are far more subject to fall…and such it was with this tree.
Betrayal made me realize that I could learn a lot from trees. My roots needed to grow wide and deep, too. I didn’t really see before, but I had paid more attention to spreading my roots out, and found others like that too. We were so much more likely to fall when the inevitable storm appeared. To be gone.
I work on deep now, but going there was hard…I had to fight the urge to give up and just go wide – it was the way of my past, the way of my family and examples – but instead for my very survival, I was compelled to do some deep digging in, digging down. Along the way, I found debris that had settled…debris from my own stuff, and from generations past. But now…the roots are going beyond that mess into a rich place of nourishment, a place of life-force. Deep is where I faced the giants, and found out I wasn’t alone – He hadn’t left or forsaken me. And there…deep…is where I found my voice, and strength. Strength to dare to love again.