June 21, 2011

All The Roots Grow Deeper When It's Dry...Sort of.

This horrible drought we're having in Texas this year made me think of an old David Wilcox song this morning. You can find the lyrics here.

Yes, that's what plants do, even when left alone without a landscaper or gardener to care for them. The catch is that a lot of plants, even large trees, will sicken and die when you get into a drought as bad as we've had here in Texas lately. Like what I've been doing for my tree's roots the past few months, we have to do some work for our souls during these long droughts, if we wish to bloom in the next rainy season.

I live in a section of southeast Texas known as the Big Thicket. It's a forest predominantly filled with pines, but plenty of hardwoods mixed in, with varying concentrations depending on the type of land and sub-forest clime. All the trees here, even the ones in well watered yards, are in a stressed situation. Many are dying already, stressed pines are susceptible to pine bark beetles, and hardwoods are succumbing to oak blight and other diseases. Aside from those problems, these trees are weakened in other ways, too.

The most obvious danger right now is wildfire. All over the area, raging fires have been popping up from even the smallest of sparks. The trees that don't burn down completely are left scarred and weakened for years afterwards. A less obvious danger to the trees can come later: hurricanes. Drought-weakened roots and branches fail in the high winds of a hurricane, destroying the tree and damaging nearby property.

Spiritual and emotional droughts leave us in the same sort of weakened state, leaving us vulnerable to more damage and possibly destruction. And just like taking care of a tree in a drought, we have to take action to minimize or prevent this damage.

For us, this means we have to do some work that may seem futile or pointless, but without it our roots will wither. One of the hardest things to continue doing is prayer when it seems like God has turned away from us. I can't stand the old platitude of, "God is answering your prayers, He's just saying no." That doesn't do anything to help the person having trouble with their spiritual connection. The real point of continuing prayer in these droughts is discipline. This discipline is the work that conditions the soil our roots grow in, and allows us to use the nourishment that is there. I've always had a hard time at continuing prayer when I'm feeling unheard, but it has always been well worth it when I have kept it up.

Journal writing (or blogging, as the case may be ;)) is another task that can be painfully difficult, but it's another discipline that can be of great benefit. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten some insight or a realization about myself while writing. My problem is that it works so well that I quit doing it when I feel better. No real discipline there, huh? It's a lot easier to dig deep with in yourself by writing when times are tough; there's just too many other fun things to do when times are good. But by writing when things are good, I find that it's easier for me to get down to some things inside that I need to deal with.

Volunteering/random acts of kindness/etc. Things like this tend to leave us with a sense of gratitude that helps immensely to heal us. But it sounds illogical, though; we should be grateful when people do or give things to us, not the other way around. But doing things like these make it a lot easier to see the things we already have been given, and give us a deeper gratitude for those things and where they come from. This kind of gratitude comes from a true deep humility, and give us an accurate perspective on who we are, who He is, and our respective positions.

I could go on all day writing about other things to help us in these dry spells, but I'll leave those to other posts. The point is that this is necessary work to do if we're going to make maximum use of the times of spiritual fulfillment in our lives, and keep ourselves from toppling in the winds or burning up in the fires that will surely come. Even if we can only manage to do one part of this work, it helps us grow and heal to do a little bit more work. Then, when our next Springtime comes, we can come back to life with a full set of leaves, instead of having our withered spots keep us from that fullness.

I'm praying for rain today. Both kinds.

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