Sometimes, we meet someone and realize that we are living parallel lives. Violating ALL mathematical concepts, occasionally these lives intersect. Three years ago, I spent time in Nebraska learning how to run a camp for abused children. I had the joy of meeting Heather Gill, a compassionate and funny woman whose life and mine run similar courses, down to the fact that our sons, who are the same age, both play the same football position and wrestle in the same weight class. The more essential similarities, however, lie in our mutual desire to take all of the world’s youth under our protective wings and in our refusal to believe that most odious adage, “You can’t save them all.”
Heather asked me to make a pendant for her, a tree with roots, and I gladly designed one for her and another for me. Several friends have asked me to explain the story behind the picture.
The tree is a perfect symbol for faith, strength, flexibility and grace.
The roots represent faith. Just as the roots of the tree both anchor and nourish the tree, faith grounds and nourishes us. Just as the roots keep the soil from eroding and blowing away, faith and loyalty keep our family and community strong.
The trunk shows both strength and flexibility. The trunk must be strong enough to hold through bitter winter blizzards and summer’s violent storms. The trunk must also be flexible, able to bend with the ever changing weather without breaking. Like the trunk, we must be strong, loyal to our beliefs and steadfast in living a just and courageous life. We also must be flexible, open to the many changes, joys and challenges life brings us.
The branches, covered in blossoms, represent grace. These flowers herald spring after winter and bring joy to all who see them. They also function to attract bees and other pollinators, allowing the tree to share its pollen, its DNA, its life with others. Grace works like the blossoms. Extending grace to others changes both the giver and the receiver. Through receiving grace, forgiveness, mercy, we learn to be gracious, forgiving, and merciful.