Rooted in the Earth

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Matthew 5:5

Photo by  Mathias Arlund  on  Unsplash

I can’t stop looking at the trees just now. They are so striking and beautiful. The tree in front of me as I write has aged with dignity and grace. The dark branches of its skeleton stand in stark contrast to its bright foliage. Different gradients of crimson, orange and gold flicker in the breeze. Its leaves fall intermittently, like jewel-toned snowflakes gathering in drifts around the foot of the trunk.

I wonder how long the tree has been here, rooted into this patch of earth. How many previous autumns has it seen? I think about how something so stately and established began as a tiny seed, buried in the dirt. I think about how its roots are still embedded in that same dirt, drawing nourishment from its continuing connection with the earth.

It reminds me of these verses from the book of Philippians: 

…Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil.2:6-8)

The life of Jesus began as a tiny seed, buried in his mother’s womb. Even though he was God, he chose to be here, on the earth, feeling the dirt beneath his feet. He ate with his friends and washed their feet. He got thirsty and tired sometimes. He walked in the dust and got frustrated. He cared about people and needed alone time.  He didn’t shrink away from the mud and the mess and the sometimes-mundane elements of human existence but rooted himself in it all.

Maybe this is how the meek inherit the earth, by being intimately acquainted with it. We feel the dirt beneath our feet every day as we do the laundry, wash the dishes, go to work, make the dinner. We dig deep into what it means to be human as we acknowledge our emotions and own our stories. We are rooted into our patch of earth by making connections with other people; by loving our friends, serving our families, caring for our neighbours.  

Back in Philippians, Paul goes on to write that because Jesus humbled himself, ‘God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ in Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Phil. 2:9-11)

There is no anxious grasping and grabbing to be found in Jesus. No selfish ambition, no conceit or arrogance. Instead, there is service and love and grace. There is the kindness of God and the invitation to grown up into the full stature of all we are called to be.

The clouds part and light graces my tree with a golden kiss. This tree, statuesque and majestic, has matured over decades. Patient and strong, it is rooted and grounded in the earth that nourishes it. In every season, it stands firm, spreading wide its branches to display the splendour of God.