There were days without rain,
the earth covered in a gray blanket that provided no comfort;
Days turned to weeks and weeks to months-
the ground seemingly too hard to plow
us stuck between an unforgiving sky and the rocks below;
When the only sound that remained was the hollow cry of wind,
it was the hope of what could be that kept us alive.
It was the stories whispered, almost as confessions, by people on buses, in coffee shops and in quiet living rooms that gave me a deep sense of the struggle this past year has posed for many. I too, stood within the struggle. It is hard to articulate what best is encapsulated as a feeling. The words that protrude from my mind come out mediated and distilled for an external audience, never doing justice to the depth and breadth of experience…
At some point during the year, I had a conversation with a close and long-time family friend. I was sharing how I was growing weary and bewildered by what seems to be a constant friction- so many opportunities and efforts that failed to come to fruition. She gave me a word that has helped me place this past years experiences in a forward-looking perspective - Roots.
We scatter many seeds on the soil of our life – some may bring beautiful flowers that seem to grow overnight and provide joy for a moment before they fade; others are washed away, and some stick, but the largest things to grow in our lives do not grow quickly, nor is the process easy. The things that stay, put down roots.
Pushing down roots is an uneasy process- It’s finding a way through the hard ground, navigating past rocks too large to break and seeking nutrients, essential for life, in a seemingly barren landscape. As the roots grow and expand they become stronger and more entwined in the earth they inhabit but remain predominantly invisible to the external world.
Much of this past year was about navigating unmarked pathways within my soul and about discovering and pressing in to new avenues. I have run into many walls, came to many dead-ends, but I have also found new spaces where growth seemed possible. The process has not been linear or contiguous in nature. Like roots hidden underground, the year was marked by a type of isolation and darkness, but it was within this unknown space that I was forced to negotiate and create new paths.
I often stop and marvel at trees. I find them exceedingly beautiful, but as I stand under their giant arms with my eyes turned to the sky, I seldom think about the labyrinth of spider web like veins running beneath my feet. It is these roots that give life and anchor the towering beauty in storms and droughts alike.
2009 was about putting down roots in my life. There isn’t really any visible evidence of this effort yet, but believe me, they are there. Now when I see a massive old tree I get excited about what could possibly sprout from this new foundation in the years to come.
The hope of what will come from the struggle kept me going through many dark days. I know from experience that hope isn’t always enough when you cannot see any light in front of you, but I trust that you too will soon see what has taken root in the soils of yesterday.
Here’s to 2010- the process, and seasons of growth!