Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Wise Old Tree Root

By Keith fisher

Years ago, we lived in a one-and-a-half-bedroom house with a nice yard. It was in a great neighborhood and we liked the ward. Since the house was too small for us, we decided to remodel.

I wanted to keep my garden space, so the plan called for a second story. In order to accomplish that, I needed to shore up the foundation. (Now, don’t laugh). Since I had to dig around the foundation, which was on top of the ground, I decided I would dig a basement, by hand, under the house.

(I asked you not to laugh.) If you lived where I did, I bet you’d laugh all the harder, because there are more rocks than dirt. I think you can imagine some of the problems that arose. Things like, how to transfer the dirt from under the house, Where to dump it, and how to keep the whole house from falling into the hole.

With a little ingenuity and a lot of help, we managed. I jacked up the house and supported it on a steel beam, and we felt safe. We lashed three lodge poles together and made a tripod with a rope pulley, then we filled five-gallon buckets with dirt and pulled them out the hole with the rope. Each bucket was emptied into a dump bed trailer my dad built. He found a hillside in need of backfill, and got permission. I never counted the loads but there were many.

I spent a lot of evenings and Saturdays under my house with a pick and shovel. One day, while under-mining the dirt face, I accidentally freed a giant dirt clod. I didn’t get out of the way in time, and it knocked me to the ground. Partially buried, I managed to wriggle out from under the clod, but I took better safety measures after that.

In the digging, there were many benefits and valuable lessons. I learned about cave-ins and found a cheap solitary way of getting exercise. I got a lot of thinking done too. There were many discoveries some impressive, some only entertaining, but we found cool rocks We still haven’t identified, tools in good shape probably left there by the house builders. We have antique gizmos left behind over 90 years of occupancy. I even found an almost full can of arsenic. Sounds like a good plot for a book doesn’t it?

On another day, I dug out an old root. Whichever tree it came from had long since quit getting water from it. The reason, I suspect, was because the house was built on top. Whatever the reason, I found it suspended between several rocks, and sat down to analyzed it.

I thought of dozens of object lessons that my root could teach me. Tree roots, like the above ground limb counterparts, want to grow round and straight, following the path of least resistance. My root was once young and thriving, trying to find the best source of water for the tree. But it had to sort through a path of obstacles.
It grew crooked, and there were flat spots, where it forced its way between rocks barely one-sixteenth of an inch apart. It continued to grow even though it had to change its course, and it changed itself. It grew through the hard and adverse parts and kept going.

Yes, there are many lessons to learn from the example of the root, like not letting adversity win. Or being movable, teachable, and having an open mind. The lesson I’m currently learning is about Jesus and the atonement.

I’ve learned that each of us can compare our lives to my root. We have scars and bends, places where we barely squeezed through. Life was never intended to be easy. But if we repent and believe Christ, the atonement will make our lives perfect and new. We can be like a new tree root, round, straight, and beautiful.

Then we’ll begin to see ourselves as God sees us, children of a loving Father in Heaven.

I finished the foundation in my house, but I never put a floor in that basement. We pushed aside our renovation plans, and moved two blocks to the South. I succeeded in creating a great root cellar. When we moved, I brought a piece of the wise old tree root with me. It sits on a shelf above my desk and reminds me of the lessons I must learn in order to be the child God wants me to be. The person, I want to be.


Christine Bryant said...

Keith, Who knew a simple root would touch my heart the way yours has. I've been dealing with a lot of adversity and change in my life lately, especially in my writing, and they way you described it's journey spoke to my heart.

"We have scars and bends, places where we barely squeezed through. Life was never intended to be easy. But if we repent and believe Christ, the atonement will make lives perfect and new. We can be like a new tree root, round, straight, and beautiful."

Thanks for this wonderful story. I've added your link to my blog and will visit yours often.


Heather Justesen said...

Great post. I love forward to seeing your writing journey here. =)

Tristi said...

This is great, Keith! Thanks for sharing.

Cathy Witbeck said...

We had a 40 ft. box elder fall over in our back yard a few years ago and we had to chop it down and dig it out. I know a lot about roots. Your blog was touching. Thanks for sharing your insight.

Mary said...

Keith, You were nuts! But ambitious. And persistent. I admire you for getting the job done. I'm left wondering, though, is that house still hovering over that big hole in the ground?
Beautiful root, great analogy (which I can relate to). I enjoyed the whole article. Thanks for sharing

Cindy Beck said...

Good story, Keith, with wonderful applications. Thanks for sharing it with us. And congratulations on this article coming out in the LDS Neighborhood newsletter!