This can be a stormy period in Denver. With the arrival of the monsoon moisture often comes strong winds. The sudden burst of energy can really push the trees to what appears to be their limits. So with the recent storms, I watched some of the large trees in our neighborhood flexing and straining under the strong gusts. As I watched them strain, I contemplated on how life can sometimes batter us out of nowhere. The winds in our own lives can arrive literally out of thin air and put us under tremendous stress. What determines whether we bend or break?
Nature has always been one of my best teachers. Taking the time to ponder the wisdom in the natural world keeps me grounded and connected. As I reflected on the strength and flexibility of the large trees being tormented by fierce winds, I was drawn to their trunks and roots. In our lives just as in nature, the depth of our roots has a significant affect on our ability to weather storms. Our human roots consist largely of values. In our journey through life, we are more likely to bend rather than break when our roots are deeper and trunk more solid.
Building strong roots is essential to sustaining life. Roots are often overlooked because they are generally not seen. The decisions we make create effects, but it is the root of those decisions (our values) that determine the quality of those actions. Deep roots anchor us and ensure that the winds above don’t uproot and destroy us. In the event that branches above us snap, it is our root values that push life back into the injured core of our being allowing us to recover. When we ignore our roots, the process of death has begun, rotting us from the inside up and out. Ignore roots at your peril.
The trunk is equally important. A trunk too rigid is prone to snap under pressure. Trees have a natural tendency to flex under stress. In our own lives, the trunk is like the beliefs we hold. Our beliefs need to be flexible because conditions often change. We must be willing to bend in the face of competing beliefs. If we’re too rigid, we face assaults that can snap our foundation. Think of beliefs you held when younger and what you believe today. Chances are, there has been tremendous change as life experiences shaped your perception of the world. A flexible trunk allows you to withstand the elements.
The small branches and leaves that snap in the wind represent those aspects in our lives that required pruning. After several days of strong winds, our neighborhood is littered with leaves and small branches that failed to survive. The void left by a broken branch makes room for new growth – it is the cycle of life at work. This pruning is a necessary process designed to remove the weaker elements and preserve the strong. The small branches and leaves are like our perceptions. These need to be tested on a regular basis and where necessary, snapped off to make room for stronger, more sustainable views. Over time, some of those branches become thicker and larger as they survive repeated assaults.
One final reflection is the wind itself. Challenges in our lives don’t always come with storm clouds. Strong bursts of wind can sometimes simply show up. The wind is an enigma. It has neither start nor end. It can appear suddenly ‘out of thin air’ and just as quickly cease. The wind, like life itself is unpredictable. There is little you can do to prepare for it. The wind is a change agent. It can bring sufficient force to be destructive or can be subtle enough to bring refreshment. It reminds me of my own life. We live in cycles with no real beginning or end. People can appear in our lives and just as quickly be gone – it happens nearly every day. Some bring peace and refreshment like the cool breeze on a hot day. Others come with the ferocity of a tornado. It’s difficult to anticipate, but we must stand tall, remain rooted in our values, and be ready to flex under pressure.
The winds of change are always blowing. With this Leo season upon us and eclipses coming in the next few weeks, the winds of change are beginning to blow once again. Are you caring for your roots? Is your trunk supple enough to bend? How strong is your tree of life?
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