This Tenacious Tree has a Gospel Taproot

When I studied the history of Christian Spirituality, I found it to be full of surprises, both astounding and inspiring. The diverse responses of holy souls to the Gospel in a myriad of times and places are full of both gift and culturally determined distortion.

However beautiful in some ways, the story of Christ’s people is not always a pretty one, especially in the light of the stormy relationships of the different branches of Christian thought and tradition as they evolved.

Given that all  branches acknowledge the Christ as the “Tap Root” of Christianity how is it possible  to justify the terrible consequences of the “branches” fighting amongst themselves?  Surely, this goes against nature itself as much as it rejects Jesus’ message of “Go, Love one another”.This living contradiction thrives yet today, seen in our church’s inability to face social and environmental issues with cooperative resolution and action.

Pondering these things, I conceived this painting, “Gospel Taproot”  as a way to be in the presence of this mystery.  My mind’s eye joined these symbols of the root and tree and placed it in cosmic space and shadowed by the red flames that transform and illuminate. The universal metaphors of the tree of life, fire and root, represent the principles of transformation and purification. A way for me to open these metaphors further was to explore the functional nature of roots.

The stability offered by the taproot is vital for growth and change.  I am awed by the patience of the root slowly, persistently, breaking through matter to find life-giving water. It speaks to the thirsty soul .

The transformation of the seed, the rock and the earth into a living tree gives me a way to picture the Christ potential within myself.  Working with this image helped me to see and feel the grace of “blessed assurance” that I have all I need to sustain me.  This awareness helps me to be fearless and to grow into my potential.

The root is also the generator of change in the continuum of ever-evolving forms of matter and energy, which are part of all organic life. This realization releases my fear that to be rooted means to never move, never change. Like many other revelations of God in the workings of nature, the root points to the ultimate source. This means for me that an authentic life is engaged in the process of assimilation and transformation of the nutrients (events/ relationships) in my environment. Fire is the anger at injustice and the creative energy needed to  effect change.

Complications of contemporary life can seem to cut us off from the  roots of faith and one’s inner life. So, for me it is vital to be aware of that saving connection to of Jesus in our depths.  To seek the Root is to return to the Source: which is to pursue one’s destiny. Jesus promises in the Gospel that our destiny is to return to the Source. The invitation is to arrive having fully lived into our transformative power in the world, through persistant acts of love towards all our branches of humanity.   

Where is your root planted?

Monica Armstrong