Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Lessons from Nature

I am a Kansas girl, born and raised until my job with AT&T transferred me to St. Louis, MO.  Away from home, my family and friends, I had to branch out of my comfort zone to make new friends.  I found many new friends through an Encounter with Christ on a Cursillo Weekend and learned the importance of staying connected with Christian friends.  I now rely upon my friends to help support me in prayer and rely on their encouragement to keep me grounded in Christ.   I no longer try “to do it alone” but instead I root myself in Christ, surrounded by other Grace-filled Christians.

I want to share a lesson I have learned from nature, particularly from some of the tallest giants of nature, the Redwood trees of California.  The huge redwood trees of California are amazing. They are some of the largest (and some of the oldest) living things on earth and are the tallest trees in the world. Some redwoods are 300 feet high (to put into perspective, 300 ft = 100 yards = the length of a FOOTBALL field tall!!). You might think that trees so large must have a tremendous root system that reach down hundreds of feet into the earth, but that is not so! The redwood trees grow only in groves with their roots intertwined laterally barely under the surface of the earth.  They are connected and interlocked with each other so that when the storms come, the winds blow, and the lightning flashes, and yet the redwoods stand together firm and tall.   In addition to the joint strength of their interlocked roots the Redwood trees also release upwards of 500 gallons of water into the air each day to help create a moist fog that provides the other trees and plants in the forest the water / humidity needed to thrive. A single tree would never survive alone; rather they grow in small groups and they support and protect each other and improve the environment where they are planted. I really like this analogy of the Redwood Trees being my guide.

 I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10

I am from a big family, one of 7 kids.  While growing up, family vacations were fun but were typically limited to camping.   With 7 kids, we had to stay organized to make sure the chores of the campsite were done quickly and done well.  My dad was a Boy Scout Leader and he used the techniques of a scout troop to keep us on task.  He would partner us up in teams, an older kid paired up with one of the younger kids.  He also divided the work into several tasks.  Dad had a mantra that was repeated and drilled into us every camp out.  He never failed to tell us, “Leave it better than you found it”.  With this simple phrase, we knew that whichever task was assigned, we were to partner together to pick up trash, scope out where the tent would be placed and then clear out all of the rocks on the ground, organize the small twigs and kindling and stack small limbs and branches neatly for
the evening campfire, and most important, keep the lid down and locked on the food box to keep the ants and other critters out.   When it was time to pack up and head home, we had to repeat the entire process, that is, again, pick up trash and organize any remaining limbs or wood into piles so all was neat and clean for the next campers to come behind us. He said the next family might arrive after dusk and will not want to trip over rocks and loose tree limbs; most importantly, they will much appreciate our efforts to leave the campsite ready for their immediate use if they need to set up a camp in the dark.  We would never even get a chance to know or see who benefited from our actions, but we could feel good just knowing that WE LEFT IT BETTER THAN WE FOUND IT!
So now I encourage you today to follow this simple advice in your own lives.  Cling to your Christian support system.  Seek out people who are rooted in Christ and who are ready to “lock arms” to support you from the ground up.  Also, look in every situation you encounter to leave the space, the surroundings and the people better than you found them.

Patti Anderson lives in St. Louis, MO and is currently in the formation process for becoming Pauline Cooperator. She and her husband, Andy, are blessed with two sons and a daughter. Patti retired from AT&T after a 34 year career.  She loves to volunteer at the St. Louis Pauline Book center and assists the Daughters of St. Paul with outreach at numerous Parish and Conference Book Exhibits each year.

1 comment:

Maryann Toth said...

Patti, Prayers are with you as you go through the beautiful Pauline Cooperator formation process. We are all connected to each other as part of the Pauline Family to support you and each other! Thank you for your article! Love your quote from 1 Corinthians.