I love trees. I don’t know why. Trees play a significant role in every one of my books so far. I am so connected to them that whenever I read or hear things about trees those facts or stories generally stick with me. Again, I don’t know why, they just do.
In church one Sunday when I was younger I heard someone compare us, the human race, to Redwood trees. (I wish I could remember who said it so that I could give them the credit, but maybe it will be enough for you to know that I didn't think of it first.) I have thought of that comparison many times since this person made me aware of it . . . and as I have grown older I have come to believe passionately in our likeness to the Redwood trees. Or rather, the fact that we are meant to be like them, if we are not.
This person said that Redwoods, some of the tallest and oldest trees on earth, have the shallowest root systems of any of their counterparts. The moment they said this I sat up straighter in the pew. With this comment the speaker captured my full attention because when I was a child we had an enormous Cottonwood in our yard. All through my childhood I loved to climb in it and I spent countless hours in its high branches. My mother often cautioned me not to play around it in a storm because it had been her experience that Cottonwoods could easily be uprooted by a strong wind since they were notorious for having very shallow root systems.
I couldn’t help but wonder: If Redwood trees had shallow root systems like Cottonwoods, then how was it possible for them to grow to be so tall, and live to be so old? I waited, breathless, for the answer. The secret to the mighty Redwood’s strength and longevity, the speaker went on to explain, was indeed found within their unique root systems. The person said that Redwoods, unlike most other trees, always grow together in groups, entangling their root systems as they go. This entanglement lends them great strength—a strength they would never possess on their own. In other words they grow together living more like one entity instead of several separate entities . . . in this way they are able to reach their unimaginable heights and whether the storms around them.
Over the years, I have come to wholeheartedly believe what that person was trying to tell us in church that day. I have observed firsthand, that like the Redwoods, the human race truly is much more robust and thrives a whole lot better when we stretch out, irrevocably entangling our lives with the lives of others . . . lending what strength we can to those around us as we grow.