lessons learned: roots and shoots

After we finally had a break from the hard, cold rain we’ve had recently, I went out to inspect the winter vegetables.  This time of year, one of my gardening joys is walking through the beds and seeing the green shoots poking through the dead, dry leaves. It is not these vibrant signs of life, however, that leave me filled with awe.  Rather, it is the roots growing in the darkness beneath that cause me to stop and reflect.onion shoot and root

How does an onion or turnip grow in a pocket of darkness–down in the cold, brown soil deplete of light?  In winter especially as cold winter storms reduce the potential for collecting life giving energy, these vegetables continue to take shape.

How can that be?  Winter darkness can be so cold, so isolating, so lonely.

And yet, the roots gather up essential food from the soil so that their shoots can be fed.  In return, the greens reach upward and channel the light so that it feeds the body below.  Root vegetables depend on the balance of both darkness and light to create the conditions they need for growth.

Sometimes, as we journey through dark periods, it is easy to question if we will ever experience the light again.  Our bodies, minds, and spirits feel unbalanced by the heaviness of what the dark brings with it.  It seems like we are expending so much energy and are not energized in return.

So how do we manage this winter season of our lives?  We become like the roots and the shoots.

Like the roots, we draw what we can from the darkness, then we surrender it to the shoots. In return, the shoots become like our faith journey, connecting us to the Light and offering us life-giving nutrition and balance, even in times of darkness.

As I completed my short walk around the gardens, I stopped at the turnips, their broad leaves extended up and out as if to maximize all the light the sun had to offer that day.  I leaned down and tugged at a shoot gently to get a peak at what was underneath.  There it was, in spite of many dark days pocketed in the soil, a healthy white turnip, blessed by the Creator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You see, root vegetables grow beneath the surface in a pocket of darkness.  In winter this seems especially challenging when there is less sunlight to create the nutrition they need.  And yet, even in the perpetual nighttime they endure, they manage to provide the food needed by their greens growing on the surface.  As a result, the greens can grow stronger and wider to capu

 

 

only to be made when there is less sunlight to penetrate small cracks in the soil.

 

 

 

The bright green tops withstand the frost, rain, and snow to collect vital nutrition for what is hiding beneath the soil.

It is not these vibrant signs of life, however, that leave me filled with awe.  Rather, it is the root growing in the darkness beneath

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