When the title of today’s column was given to me back in mid July of this year, I immediately began to focus on my family roots and how far or rather how deep they must extend. It even occurred to me of the strong possibility that while I may be living in the Caribbean that some of these family roots of mine may extend as far as in the African continent. Then as history would recall by the actual events and the many documentaries that have been chronicled over time, I began to reflect on our ancestors of what life must have been like for them back then. For the most part, I tried to imagine their struggles. I tried to create in my mind a mental picture of their hardship as to how they must have been chastened to the ground, whipped vehemently and no doubt violently, bound hands and feet in chains and shackles before they were sold off on the block market to the highest bidder.
We may even recall “The Saga Of An American Family,” a novel written by Alex Haley and first published in 1976. While the memory of the past may be subdued, one may not totally forget the life story of Kunta Kinte (also known as Toby Waller), an 18th century African captured as an adolescent and sold into slavery in the US. Not surprising though, the release of the novel, combined with its highly popular television adaptation, ROOTS (1977) led to a cultural sensation in the US. It was 46 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List, including 22 weeks in the top spot. The movie with its concluding episode on the ABC Network January 30th 1977 was eventually ranked as the third most watched telecast of all time. So the history remains.
But the purpose and the message of today is not really to dwell on yester years. So pardon me for that momentary recollection of past reckonings.
With your permission though, let’s look at roots on a much broader spectrum. What else comes to your mind when you hear the word ROOTS? Well it did not take me long to come upon these other forms of roots. In addition to the movie ‘ROOTS’ and family roots, I thought of tree roots. How about cultural roots and yes, hair roots? I thought it might be even more fun, as well as educational if I allowed my mind to be refreshed about the tree roots. Come on join me!
Tree roots from my childhood recalls have three (3) primary functions: (a)to anchor the plant (b) to absorb water and dissolve minerals and (c) to store food reserves. In essence, they are the principal water absorbing organs of a plant. They may live for a very short time or they may live for a very long time. They may be shallow or they may be deep. They may be woody or non-woody. Roots do not regenerate. There are so many variations and just to mention a few: prop roots that grow downward from branches; deep roots that grow in loose sandy soil; shallow roots that grow mostly in heavy soil; pioneer roots that are destined to become woody roots from the moment they start to grow; hair roots that are typically single celled roots; tap roots that grow downward; sinker roots that grow very deep such as the Jarah Tree in Australia.
Much was said there, wasn’t it? Well if you’ve followed me closely, have you noticed there was one type of root that was not mentioned as yet? If you’ve said spiritual roots, yeah, then you answered correctly and you are top of the class. (okay I’m smiling too)
My question though is this, how deep are our spiritual roots? Are they anchored deep beneath the Rock Christ Jesus? While on the one hand it may be seen as a perfectly beautiful ecosystem to have well nurtured lush, green trees standing side by side in a forest or a garden, herein lies the problem for us as human beings that if we should choose to live our lives without having our spiritual roots firmly and deeply grounded in God, we do not stand a chance of surviving when strong winds of adversity and the storms of life blows. Life is easy for the forest of trees. They have no reason to create deep roots and even if and when they do, when strong winds and storm winds blow, note carefully how their elaborate root system is ripped up from the earth and they are sent plunging to the ground with no hope of returning.
We must however on the other hand, when our storm winds blow, glory in our tribulations so that our spiritual roots grow strong and are sent deeper into the ground. Adversity is a key indicator that your spiritual roots are growing. Faith grows deeper in God when winds blow through test and trials to determine what type of spiritual root you and I may have. Without that strong foundation, winds would blow and cause you to fall belly up looking to the sky, wondering what happened.
Our spiritual roots are the stabilizing force that would cause us to behold our future. The important thing is to ensure that you have depth in your spiritual roots. How do you get depth? Build your hope on things eternal and not the temporary. Ground yourself and anchor yourself in the word of God. Learn to withstand your tests, trials and tribulations. Pray without ceasing! And if you and I shall do all that then:
It is my prayer that you have been blessed by this column today just as much as I was.