Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trees and People

Hey everyone! Sorry that it's been so long since I posted anything. I've been  pretty busy with life, but here we are again; together in the virtual world of words. That was weird, I apologize. I feel like words are oxygen to me, and I feel like I've been holding my breath lately. So allow us to breathe together and perpetuate the lovely lives that we lead. That had nothing to do with today's topic by the way.

Here we go for real now. Lately I've been noticing that a lot of areas of my life have been thriving on stop and start patterns. What I mean is that I have a tendency to dig my toes into something, and then jump right back out; get excited about something else, and then drop it; over and over again I fall short of the longevity that I need to continue these things. I am grateful that I've gained the cognizance to realize that this pattern is forming, but still I lack the understanding necessary to climb out of this hole. I'll be honest with all of you guys, I'm kind of struggling with this right now. Most of the writers and blogs that I follow tend to propose answers and theories, and I partake in my fair share of that, but today I really don't have any answers. Only questions.

Did you know that it takes a minimum of 70 years for pine trees to reach maturity? Some take up to 250 years. I'll admit that I did not know this until I just googled it. That is an impressive fact to me though. I commonly look at trees and marvel at the fact that such huge, dense creatures came from mere seeds that could rest easily in my palm. I wonder how many people looked at those trees before they reached their prime though? How many eyes brushed over them as they slowly reached their potential. 70 years is a very long time. In the time that a baby is born, grows up, grows old, and subsequently passes away, a pine tree has only just begin to live. And some take 3 lifetimes to reach the age at which they can begin to thrive. Want to know something else interesting about pine trees? I knew you would (or you're questioning whether this blog has any point and you're considering getting on Facebook, and I understand.) The tap roots in pine trees often grow between 5 and 10 feet down into the ground, and can grow up to 20 feet downward if the conditions are right. The support and nutritional systems of these trees are largely unseen. I think there are some powerful parallels that can be drawn between those trees and my own life. If, over the next few minutes, you find that my extrapolations from tree life to real life are going off the deep end, feel free to stop reading. Let it begin...

Sometimes I think that I pretend to be a fully-grown tree when my roots are only a few inches deep. Imagine a 50 foot pine tree whose roots were only 5 inches deep. It would only take minutes for the wind to topple a giant tree that was loosely rooted in a few inches of soil. This idea seems silly to me, yet I choose to root myself so shallowly in my own life. I pretend to be a mature tree and I reach for lofty places, but I ignore the fact that even the slightest breeze can offset my balance and bring me down. To hone back in on reality, let me put it this way: I get excited about pursuing God seriously, or being more productive in Ellison's Cage, or even taking more initiative at my job, which are all very good things to long after, but again and again I seem to jump into the thick of things and then choke out. I reach for the heavens in my faith walk, but fall back into sin as soon as temptation arises. I set goals for writing songs, but succumb to the draw of tv or going to the movies. I resolve to sell more at work, but take every chance I can get to sit down and waste time. My intentions seem to be grounded in truth and sincerity, but I lack the patience to dig my roots deep enough to sustain my ventures. Maybe I don't even fully understand how to go deeper in my roots. I wrote last month about change, and I think I am beyond wanting to change right now in my life. I can see change so clearly, but it's behind bullet-proof glass and all I have is a water pistol.

How can I focus on digging deeper into the soil of life instead of reaching for high goals? This is where I am right now. It's midnight, I'm tired, I am uncomfortably cold for some reason, and I don't have an answer. For a lot of years I thrived on words and always having something to say, but I've come to learn that words are like cars sometimes; they can run out of gas. I feel like I've made some significant steps to overcome the downfalls I experienced this year, but still I want something more; something deeper. 

To be honest again, I have no plan for the rest of this blog; I'm just writing what comes to heart. Ernest Hemingway said "Write hard and clear about what hurts." Sometimes it's a good approach, sometimes it becomes rambling. I feel like I've used that quote before, but it still remains true. I just searched "deeper" in my bible app on my droid (I wonder what Jesus thinks modern conveniences) and came up with this: "They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built." (Luke 6:48) The part that sticks out to me is where it says "Dug down deep." That implies effort. Have you ever dug straight down into the earth? It reminds me of a time I was helping a friend wire the electricity for a house and we had to dig a round hole to place a power pole in. It's incredibly difficult to dig straight into the ground. Lots of effort was required, and progress was made very slowly. To again extrapolate, what does digging down deep mean in my life? I think it means that there is a lot of dense, hard material that is covering up the place that my foundation needs to be. There are some emotions and some scars that are most likely inhibiting me from being solid. I thank God even right now that he forgives my misgivings and mistakes, and that he understands my difficulty, and I pray for strength to remove that which blocks me from knowing him deeper.

Patience seems to be pretty key to this process. I cannot become firmly rooted overnight. It is going to take time and it is going to take effort. A fact about trees that sticks out to me in hindsight is that they don't all grow at the same rate. I know I already said this, but it can take anywhere from 70 to 250 years for them to reach maturity. I think I am on the long end of the spectrum. It takes me a while to grow, but deep down I am growing. I hurt for those of us who have a hard time appreciating small steps, and who judge ourselves very harshly. It is a flaw of mine, and I know other people struggle with it as well. So know that these words are about my own journey, but are meant for many different people. I want to end with a few words to our heavenly Father:

God, you know that I love you, and you know that I struggle. Give me and give us all the strength to see beyond the here and now into the days to come. Help us to put in the effort needed to build our foundation deep and firmly upon you, all the while appreciating and learning from each step in the process. Help us to love you and love one another. Amen.

P.S. This is unrelated to the post, but I am doing an experiment if any of you would like to participate. All you have to do is share this blog with one friend who has never heard of it before and encourage them to read a post. I am writing a post around the experiment, and I'll explain it further then. I'd appreciate your help :) 

(Thanks for reading my rambles today. I love and pray for you all. You can find me on Twitter at @matthewormand if you want to chat.)


  1. Once again, this is fantastic. It's thoughtful, truthful, and very sincere. I love the metaphor so much.

  2. Once again, I love seeing your words and really appreciate you taking the time to read. You're a great friend :)

  3. Often, the slower the growth, the stronger the tree.

  4. Hey Matt, I'm a follower of yours on Twitter and I follow Ellison's Cage on Tumblr. You're blog is really great, full of deep messages and thoughtful words. I really enjoyed reading here. Thank you. :)

  5. Thanks Trinity! That really means the world to me, and I appreciate your words :) and thanks mom I forgot to respond earlier haha