Roots of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love
Written by: David Bayne
Lately, I have been paying attention to trees. It all started this past July at a staff gathering for my community, Word Made Flesh, when we reflected on the theme of stability. Trees came up quite a bit as an image of stability. More recently, I have been mindful of a question posed by Susan S. Phillips in her book Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction. She asks one of her directees to imagine the tree that she is created to be and has become. (p. 154). Throughout the Scriptures we also find the imagery of trees, roots, branches and bearing fruit to refer to our spiritual lives with God.
Buenos Aires is a city known for its abundance of trees. The city is full of beautiful trees that line the avenues and fill the parks and plazas. The size and maturity of these trees demonstrate they have been around quite awhile, unlike most of the trees I am used to in suburban Southern California. Throughout the year the trees reflect the seasons, again unlike most trees in Southern California. I am extra aware of the trees as summer begins here in the Southern Hemisphere. The trees are now at their fullest and people are taking advantage of the shade and outdoor space for the refreshment they offer. Just this past week our community spent the day at a park with the youth we serve among in Buenos Aires. It was a hot day, so we spent the majority of our time enjoying one another under the cool shade of some large trees.
In paying more attention to trees I have reflected on the characteristics and qualities of trees that I’d like to strive for in my own life and formation. In his book, The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove speaks of establishing ‘roots of love’ that bind us “intimately to our landscape and the people who share life on it.” (p. 83). He goes on to say, “If the love of God and neighbor is our end goal, roots of love in stability are the means God has given for making progress in this life.” (p. 84) The depth and reach of our roots directly impacts the reach of our limbs and the fruit we bear.
So, as this new liturgical year begins this Advent season, I desire to deepen not only roots of love, but also hope, peace and joy. As I make space to be attentive and live into these Advent themes, I seek to deepen and nourish my roots of stability. I pray this will enable me to more fully bear the fruit of hope, peace, joy and love in the new year ahead. I will continue to pay attention to trees to remind me of these things.
Photo: “Giant Tree in Plaza San Martin” by “Marc Smith” from Flickr (Used under Creative Commons license)