Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Little Tree That Grew on the Trestle

While visiting family in Thomasville, my husband and I went out to Cherokee Lake one afternoon.  This lake largely escaped his notice during his childhood, but about two weeks ago he discovered it while looking at old railroad maps.  So, we ventured out to see its current state and investigate some history.

Today it is a vibrant park with a rose garden, playgrounds, fishing docks, and a mile long walking path.  As we began a turn on the path, he pointed up at the railroad trestle and said, "Look at that little pine tree." I was amazed to see a tiny tree growing right out of one of the pilings.  As we passed under the trestle and looked back, we saw half a dozen more pine tree saplings growing up out of it.  They seemed to me a symbol of hope and determination.  In a place lacking soil and indeed space for roots to spread, these little trees still took root.  If they could grow there, we can grow anywhere.

As we continued our walk reaching the far side of the lake, we saw more tiny pines growing in the gutters of the county jail, and well as a few bigger, but still young pines growing on the side of the path.  Again, my husband commented, "Pine trees will grow wherever they sprout, but if you try to transplant them, they are sure to die."  Really?  I grew up with pines all around, but I had never seen anyone try to transplant them and had no idea they were so delicate.  The notion, though, instantly reminded me of a fellow church member who, in the midst of strife when some people run away from troubles trying to find a new church home, always says, "You must stay and grow where you're planted."  I thought that pine trees would be the perfect emblem for him -- a great example of his philosophy.

I don't know if I agree that as a blanket praxis we should all grow, live, and die where we start.  I certainly haven't.  In fact, in high school I really admired Disney's Belle because like her I wanted adventure in the great wide somewhere, and more than my "provincial" life.  In some ways, I think I found some of that, but in other ways, I've simply transplanted myself in another province.  Nonetheless, I'm now pretty happy with my little life, but this little life could never have happened if I had remained firmly rooted in my home soil.  I do still return to that soil for nourishment from time to time (perhaps too often if you ask my husband), but there are other soils which offer me other nourishment these days, too. Having said all that, I think our fellow parishioner is right in his theory if we modify it a bit.   For indeed, I think before one uproots himself, he should way his reasons, his duties, and the possible outcomes of his move.  I don't think running from conflict is a good reason to move.  It's my opinion that in families, in communities, members should strive to overcome their conflicts and find solutions to their problems.  It's all too easy these days to cut and run, as is evidenced by the rising rate of divorce for one.  It's much more difficult to stay put and work through things, but it is also potentially much more rewarding.

If that little tree on the trestle could tough it out and try to grow despite the odds, then so can we, and we stand a much better chance of growing.

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