Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Putting Down Roots

In worship a couple of weeks ago I spoke of prayer as a way of putting down roots into God wherever we happen to be. I used the illustration of a Banyan tree to make the point. In particular, I had in mind the Banyan tree that has stood on the grounds of the Old Courthouse of Lahaina on the island of Maui. This is an amazing tree! Planted in 1873 the tree now covers nearly 2/3 of an acre. Needless to say it is a sight to behold. The pictures included in this posting were taken when I visited in 2005.

This Banyan tree illustrates a truth about prayer that has taken hold in my life and faith. As this tree continues to spread out covering so much ground the branches end up further and further away from the roots. To overcome this distance, presumably, the tree will drop roots down from the branches that seek out the nourishment of the ground below. When the roots reach the ground and take hold in the life giving soil they solidify and thicken they become not only sources of nourishment but also strong support for the ever expanding tree.

In my life of prayer there is great value to this image. If my life was to cover but a little area, like most coniferous or deciduous trees I would remain close enough to my roots so as to keep nourishment close. However, the tree of my life is anything but modest in scope. I think the image of the Banyan tree speaks so deeply to my experience because like it, my life seems to take off with abandon in every direction. I also realize that I need all the support that I can get as I move farther and farther from my root, the core of my being. Continuing to put down roots for nourishment and support as my life ventures out in every direction is not simply essential. I’ve come to discover that deep and vibrant prayer, sinking down roots into the nourishment of God’s grace and presence, is not just vital. It is the difference between life and death.

Each day I grow deeper into this pattern of prayer that is more than simply something I do, I learn that it is the grace that I receive from God in return that enables me to reach out, live and grow in faith.