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I went to the dentist this week and the news was both good and bad. I’d been more diligent than usual since my last checkup so there was significant overall improvement in my dental health. There were no cavities and not even much plaque. However, one single tooth was looking decidedly grey compared to its neighbours. I was told that such a development sometimes indicates that the root of the tooth is dying. That sounded ominous to me, especially since there isn’t really anything I can do about it. No matter how careful I am to look after the part of my tooth that shows, without a healthy root I could lose it altogether.
I’ve been thinking about how important roots are, not only in nature but in life. We talk about putting down roots in a place or a community. It means we are settled there, connected in meaningful ways. We might search out our family history or our roots in order to understand where we’ve come from and have a sense of our place in the world. Our roots anchor us and enable us to stand strong in the midst of the storms that sometimes overtake us.
When I think of the roots of a tree I immediately think about how those roots do more than just anchor the tree and enable it to stand strong. They also draw life and sustenance from the soil they are planted in so that the tree can flourish.
What about me? Where are my roots planted? Where do I get my sustenance and the strength to stand in adversity? Do I spend time and energy looking after the parts of my life that show and yet neglect my inner life?
The Bible talks about being strengthened by God’s Spirit in our inner being and that with Christ dwelling in our hearts we are rooted and established in love. (Ephesians 3:14-19)
That’s true. My life is rooted in my faith and my faith is rooted in God’s love for me. That’s where my confidence comes from. It’s where I get my strength and my peace. It’s not too hard to check on the health of my roots. They may not be easily visible, but if they are not healthy it will show in the rest of my life soon enough. I get anxious and fearful and depressed. When that happens I know what to do. I need to remember my roots…I need to check for and deal with anything that may have damaged my connection with God. He is always willing to heal the breach. Then I can go back to soaking up the life that comes out of knowing I am loved absolutely.
I have a feeling it won’t be that easy with my tooth. Too bad.