The Nature of Security
The Law of the Redwoods Allegory
By Richard and Linda Eyre
Walking into a forest of Sequoia redwoods is like entering a cathedral. The massive overhead boughs filter the sunlight like stained glass, and the size and straightness of the rough red towering trunks inspires an awe and reverence that makes you want to move slowly and softly.
Our oldest daughter and her husband and two little boys live in northern California and love to hike in the redwood groves that are within easy driving distance from their home. Whenever we go there to visit our grandkids (and their parents), the redwoods with their majesty and serenity are always on the short list of places they want to take us.
Before we had that personal connection, if someone said “redwood,” we most likely would have thought first of a porch or a deck-constructed of redwood because of the unique properties of that wood, which don’t allow it to warp or rot. Nowadays, though, when someone says “redwood,” we think of being among those massive trees with our grandchildren. The giant Sequoia redwoods are truly huge-the tallest members of nature’s kingdom, reaching over 300 feet straight up-a football field on its end, and thick enough to accommodate a drive-through tunnel in their trunk. You thought the humpback whale was big at 50 tons? A full-grown redwood weighs 40 times as much-over 2000 tons!
But what may actually be more amazing than how big the redwoods are or how tall they stand is how long they stand and the fact that, despite their large, wind-catching limbs and their very shallow roots, they stand firm against the strongest storms and the wildest wind. Their secret is simple: Redwoods grow together in groves and intertwine their shallow roots. Thus, the roots of one tree in the grove are the roots of all the trees, interlaced underground and able to hold each tree upright no matter what kind of gale goes on above.
You don’t see crooked redwoods. Lesser trees, even those with more root structure and less mass for the wind to catch, sometimes assume a “wind posture,” becoming slanted and crooked to accommodate the prevailing breezes. Redwoods, though, with their interlocking roots, grow straight as well as tall. They are parallel with each other and perpendicular to the ground.
Perhaps the natural resistance of redwood to rot has something to do with the strength, straightness, and longevity of the trees, which in turn is attributable to the way redwoods grow in groves and link their roots.
Families that grow together and stand together, appreciating and intertwining their roots, staying in parallel harmony with each other and at perpendicular odds with base materialism, will reach lofty goals, survive gale-force trials, and be free from the rot of amorality.
We grow in our own family groves simply by staying together and doing things together. We intertwine our roots by supporting each other, by knowing and having contact with extended family and special family friends or godparents, and by having and honoring family rituals and traditions.
It is also very helpful to children if they know something about their genealogical roots-their ancestors-so they can draw strength and identity from those who went before-those who gave us not only our names and personal heritage, but our very genetics. It’s hard to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve come from. Children who are taught about their ancestral roots have an unseen secondary strength, a beneath-the-surface support and identity system that enhances their self-image and gives them an inner confidence and sense of values and morality that is based on where and who they came from.. Everything about our great-grandparents may not be uplifting or honorable, but we can choose the stories we tell and the ancestors we focus on.
Adopted children, stepchildren, or children in blended families should be taught that your ancestors are now theirs also. When they got you, they also got your whole family tree. These children can actually come to understand that they have the blessing of two “root systems”-yours and their own genetic and original culture roots.
We live in a mobile time, a transient society where geographic roots or “being from someplace” seems to matter less than it used to. But our genealogical roots, and knowing enough about our ancestors to link ourselves with them, can give us a sense of stability in an unstable world. Said another way, most people’s “place roots” don’t go as deep now as they once did. Phrases like “The family’s roots were planted deep in the community” wouldn’t work with many families today. In light of our transience, our cultural, ancestral, and extended family roots matter more than ever because they serve as a broad intertwining support mechanism and can help a child know who he is morally and spiritually, as well as physically.
Like the redwoods, then, we must grow together and grow close to each other.
Like the redwoods, we must embrace each other physically.
Like the redwoods, we must hold tight to each other emotionally and spiritually and link our destinies.
Like the redwoods, we should know our roots, appreciate their strength and interconnections, and understand that we can draw security and identity from them.
Like the redwoods, we should stand tall and straight for our children and pass our common identity on to them with respect and with pride.
Like the redwoods, we should “bloom where we’re planted,” be grateful for our own heritage and culture rather than wishing for someone else’s, and notice the blessings of where our roots are, rather than wanting to move elsewhere.
2003 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.