As a little girl, tiny, barefoot with a golden crown, I would sit at the foot of a thick tree on the edge of my backyard. Cross-legged, head resting upon dry, crumbling bark, my small lips would whisper secrets.
I’m afraid to sing in the Christmas musical. I’m jealous that Lauren is so brave and strong. I want to be a writer when I grow up.
And then the wind would blow, whipping violently through branches hanging on tightly to painted leaves of lovely hues. The trees were dancing to the song that the wind sang. And in their dance, they were sharing my secrets. This is what I believed.
Trees have, to me, always represented growth and freedom. Arms stretching out towards an ever unattainable sky, trees put some sort of unexplainable hope in my heart that I can stretch and grow and grasp anything I desire. With trees, also come friends–birds. Birds– wings and freedom. The feeling that one can go anywhere and do anything. I have been blessed enough to be able to experience more than most in my twenty-two years. I have hiked the Andes mountains. I have driven through tiny villages in South America, and stood on the top of a Volcano in Scotland. My feet have walked busy streets in London, twirled to midnight subway songs, and skipped in empty England fields. Yet, inside of me, there is the always present desire for more. More freedom. More adventure. More flights away from the nest. I have allowed my spirit to desire this freedom for so long that I think I have forgotten that even birds find trees to nest.
The thing about a great Maple or Oak is that with every motion of growth towards the sky, its roots grow deeper and wider beneath the soil. Trees both root and reach.
I’ve been back in Nashville a while now, but haven’t allowed myself to begin the process of finding my roots again. I have, instead, sat in sunshine filled corners of coffee shops and on park benches dreaming of how I might go on to something else–something new–something seemingly better and new. God is so good to me though. Even when I allow my spirit to become dissatisfied–even when I think that He isn’t giving me what I need–He draws me back to take another look. This weekend I found myself sitting in a circle of middle school students from church. Helping an old friend with her middle school ministry at church, I helped organize and facilitate our first ever middle school leadership team retreat.
Read them these verses, God told me. “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22). and then again– “Above all, love each other deeply” (1 Peter 4:8).
The foundation of our entire life as Christians must be to love. Love for Christ, love for others. While contemplating what to share with the group, I began thinking about what the word ‘deep’ meant to be. Immediately, the image of a tree came to my mind. Deep roots. How can you truly minister, mentor, or love deeply if you have no roots, my child? I don’t know Lord. I can go and love. But what good is your love if you can not learn to love where you are, where I place you, where you can walk and watch and be proud of those you walk beside? Learn to love deeply, Audrey. Learn to put down roots.
Tears filled my eyes as I watched the boys and girls around me share their dreams and desires for their lives. And for the first time since returning home from college, I did not desire to fly away. I could only think, “I wonder what he/she will be like in several years. I wonder if their hearts will stay so innocent and pure. I wonder who they each will become…” I began to wonder if just maybe I can’t find some way to have both roots and wings.