In American culture, how things appear is often taken as the truth. But reality goes deeper than appearance. Ralph and I went out on our deck that looks out over the orchard one night. When we looked down from our second story porch, we saw at the edge of our lawn a beautiful, fully loaded tree of growing golf-ball sized Granny Smith apples lying on its back with its roots exposed to the sky. It was shocking to see, given all the other thousands of trees around it were still standing tall and erect. When I asked Ralph why, he simply said…”weak root system”.

 A couple of days later, he added a further reflection: “sometimes a tree can lose its balance. Maybe the tree next to it is growing too close, causing the limbs on that side to become smaller, fewer, weaker.” The health of trees is known to find protection through their root systems and the messages they send one another. However, as with human beings, sometimes, in a desperate search for freedom, new branches may begin growing on the opposite side of the encroached upon neighbor. The problem is that over time, the tree can become unbalanced and lose the capacity to withstand the extra lop-sided weight. The roots give way, and over it goes.  Trees are pruned each winter in order to watch out for just that type of problem. But, It wasn’t caught on this one (there are only two million other trees on this farm).

Several questions come to mind:

  • Who do you allow to see you as you are?
  • How do you balance the need for both solitude and community?
  • Who are you growing next to? What do your neighbors need from you? What do you need from them? How would you find out? Our lives could depend on it!

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