February 1, 2022
–Ann Dean, Dayspring Church
In the fall before the pandemic hit, I planted a small Leyland cypress tree by the door to the driveway. Evergreen and fast-growing, it has thrived and is now amazingly beautiful — 12 feet tall, lushly branched, and fragrant. A cause for rejoicing, this exultant cypress has daily been an icon of strength and possibility for me.
After the heavy snowfall last week, I was stunned and brokenhearted to see this tree bent over, leaning toward the street, half uprooted. Broken roots hanging in the frigid air. Looking at them, I was gripped by the sudden thought, “that is me!” A closed off place deep inside me opened up and I realized just how much I feel uprooted, how many changes have assaulted my secure stance. Especially in the last two years while the cypress was growing. Confronted suddenly with the cypress’s broken roots, I knew it was important to address my own uprootedness. In its totality, anew.
I pondered and prayed. Also, I asked someone to help me straighten and secure the bent tree to a strong, deeply rooted stake, and gently replant the broken roots. Now standing tall again, the tree might survive through the winter. Soon springtime would bring ongoing opportunities for extra care and nourishment. And maybe it would recover and thrive again.
The stake became my beacon of hope. It reminded me that I know the One who is my stake. No matter how many ways my life is uprooted, I believe there is One who continues to care for and nourish my spirit. This loving One has fathomless compassion, radiant beauty, and infinite goodness. This One is my lifeblood and is completely trustworthy. Whatever happens, however much changes or is lost. Again and again, the trying circumstances of life, large and small, remind me that the power of the Spirit is evident in all things.
Today’s gospel* says that Jesus, after his baptism and filled with the power of the Spirit, is thus anointed to begin his ministry of bringing good news to the poor, the blind and the oppressed. He is empowered to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Rooted in the One for eternity, I have to believe that “favor” continues unfolding.
It can be very hard to see this as the year of the Lord’s favor. I imagine it was hard for Jesus and his disciples to see life that way, too, especially at this death. Yet, with the eyes of faith it is possible. The stake holding my uprooted tree upright, giving the roots the possibility of growth and strength, reminds me of my roots and what I most need to remember. God is real and ever-present. Faith is the one thing necessary, whatever happens.
- In what ways does your life feel uprooted?
- How would you describe your strongest roots?
- What prayer strengthens your faith?