Some time ago, I attended a retreat with our Inspiro Arts team. We spent four days, working through different activities, exercises, spending free times and meals together — the kinds of things you would expect for a team-building retreat. One of the activities involved spending an extended time in individual prayer and listening, using our different artistic gifts to respond to whatever we sensed God bringing to our attention.
As I began to settle in, a phrase popped into my head: “I can’t do anything right!” This surprised me, since self-doubt is not usually something I struggle with. However, I did remember an incident, not long before, where several different issues had come piling in on top of each other. Criticism was coming at me from without and within, and I finally blurted out in frustration, “I can’t do anything right!” I kept on praying, wondering if this was more than inconsequential spiritual “noise.”
Independently, I had been pondering the image of the tree-person here. I’d been working on this idea in the back of my mind for some time, but didn’t have a title, or even any definite thoughts about where it was going. I’ve always been fascinated by C.S. Lewis’ descriptions of the talking trees, or dryads, in his Chronicles of Narnia stories. As I began to turn over both the image and this phrase that was bothering me, the two began to intertwine.
The tree doesn’t spend time worrying about how to grow or produce fruit. These things are built into the nature of the tree in its DNA. As long as the tree remains deeply rooted, growth comes as a result of the way it is created — the design buried in the code, deep within each of its cells. Through times of storm or drought to the changing of the seasons from winter to spring to fall, the tree grows and produces its fruit.
In Christ, I am being transformed into His likeness. I may not look the same as Jesus did when He walked through the streets of Jerusalem, but I have been given His character — His spiritual “DNA” — inside of me. My roots grow deep as I live, day by day, in fellowship with Christ — when I know His words, when I reflect His light within me, when I let more of myself die and more of Him blossom. In many different and practical ways, His nature inside of me begins to produce fruit.
As we are now living in times of chaos and uncertainty, as communities become ever more deeply divisive, perhaps one of our deepest needs is a sense of rootedness. We have lost confidence and hope in our political systems, in our sense of justice and fairness, and even in our understanding of history and who we are. In the middle of this, we begin to understand that the character of Christ, this DNA, which has been planted deep in our nature is our only hope.
This is where we may be “Deeply Rooted.”
See more of Chuck's work and thoughts at tryonsculpturearts.com.