I recently completed one of my essential mind clearing trips. A journey of about six thousand miles which took me from Columbus to California, Las Vegas, and Wyoming. The goal is always to find something or someone that inspires or illuminates or, in a worst case scenario, reminds me of what I like about where I live and the people I am fortunate to know.
A central element of this annual quest is to go somewhere I have never been, in the hope that such a place will help me to understand better myself or those around me. In this season of crazy-- when so many people I have been touched by have passed away, when so many institutions I have cared about are teetering, when so many of my friends (and me) are truly scared of the future-- I give you the Redwood Forests of California.
These trees tower over the observer, over the surrounding hillsides, over everything around them. Their scale can not be explained or described. It can only be witnessed. They are much like Niagara Falls, Love, or an amazing diner that stands as a monument to who were we were and, in more ways than we know, still are.
I can not post a photo of the Redwoods here and have it mean anything to you, so I am not even going to try. But what I will share is this. The Redwoods grow so tall and are so inspiring not because they root themselves deep into the ground. They do not tie into bedrock like a skyscraper to support their foundation. No. Their roots are actually quite shallow. What they do to survive is to entangle themselves in a web of support with all the trees around them. Their literal support system ensures that they can ward off invasive pests, pass along nutrients, and care for sick relatives. This underground structure is the key to their very survival.
Even in the event of a fire or flood, the roots stay connected and it is then that an even greater insight occurs. It is only from the fires and floods and the tragedies that new Redwoods can grow. Otherwise, the undergrowth is too deep and thick to permit the seed to reach the forest floor. Life must come-- does come-- from death. And in the sad event that a Redwood does manage to fall, from its trunk will spring the start of new life. On every fallen Redwood trunk can be found the sprouts of a new Redwood that will, in time, honor its parent by climbing higher and taking its place in the canopy.
The system is beautiful and complete. It is is Life, Death, and Life again, all in perfect harmony, exactly as it should be.
In our season of rushing. In our time of trying to be perfect, finding the right card, the right gift, or the right word, let us take just a moment and marvel at the wonderful world we are a part of. The reality that life can spring- does spring- from the darkest times and that life and our future depends not on us weathering alone this crazy world, but on us all seeing the value connecting with each other. Let us take from these beautiful ancient beings the understanding that we will only reach the possible of just how high we can rise when we live as one family-- caring and supporting each other. No matter what may come. Fire or Flood. Sunshine or Rain. They go on, so must we.