Getting to the ‘root’ of the lesson
Four small fingers and a thumb wrapped themselves carefully around a young dandelion shoot at the edge of a small woodlot. The dirt below it was dark, loose and extremely rich with nutrients.
The fingers squeezed and pulled. The tender green leaves and round, hollow stems were no match. Up they came, pulling out an intricate, dirt-caked root structure.
Phase one of the lesson was complete.
More than a dozen children stood at the side of the trail. This was one in a series of nature classes being held at a Christian kids’ camp late last month at Camp Harmony near Johnstown.
None of them were particularly surprised that a 10-year-old could so easily pull a young weed out of the loose mountain soil. They were a little more skeptical of the next request.
Michael was asked to pull up a tall and sturdy mature red maple tree that was rooted just feet away from the dandelion he had just plucked from the ground.
He laughed, and so did many of the children watching. They knew it couldn’t be done. Still, Michael tried. He wrapped his arms around the trunk and pulled as hard as he could. The maple didn’t budge.
The other children were encouraged to help. Still, the maple stood firm.
They were asked which plant was the sturdiest – which might hold up better when there were outside stressors affecting them from all directions. They overwhelmingly chose the maple.
From there the nature lesson became much more. The dandelion and the maple tree were weaved into a spiritual object lesson.
Both require a mixture of sunlight and rain to grow to full potential – but both are predestined to become a maple or dandelion based on the seed they came from.
People have the choice to grow into whichever they choose.
The sunlight is God’s love. His Holy Spirit. The words He leaves behind through His words in the bible.
The rain is embodied by the trials and tribulations we face – the temptations and the rough moments. Without darkness can we ever truly appreciate the light?
Without rain, the plants would shrivel up in the heat. Without sun, they’d drown in the wet gloominess of the forest.
The maple endures because it sprouts higher than the foliage around it, ever searching for and growing towards the sunlight it needs. Its roots run deeper, its trunk thickens and develops a layer of protective bark.
We’ve all experienced some degree of storms in life – the torrential downpours, rising flood waters, heavy winds and even the damaging hail and explosive lightning from time to time.
Debilitating injuries, life-threatening illnesses, bullying, deceit, heartache and numerous other moments when life seems dark and the rain seems to never end.
But we can choose to grow from those moments – to build a stronger root system, develop some protective bark and be ready for the next series of trials and tribulations we’ll inevitably face.
It starts by making a conscious effort to grow toward the light. Like the maple tree, spare no effort to grow tall above the dandelions, skunk cabbage and poison ivy vines in life.
Keep seeking God’s light by taking it one step at a time. Perhaps that simply means opening a bible for the first time, or visiting the local church or simply seeking out friends who already have become the sturdy hardwoods of the local forest.
Nature is full of God’s handiwork, and we can all learn much from exploring the signs and lessons He so carefully wove into His masterpiece.