Living Roots

It’s said that for every branch and tendril of a tree that you can see, there are twice as many roots down below. I also have heard that palm tree survive hurricanes because they can flex in the wind. I suspect their roots help too.

Pando is a colony of quaking aspen in Fishlake National Forest, Utah. This forest covers over 106 acres has 47,000 trees. However, scientists discovered something amazing about these Aspen trees: it is one organism. Each tree is a clone. It is over 80,000 years old and has survived forest fires through its deep root system.

Even stranger is a new discovery: trees communicate through their roots. Ecologists even say they have a social life. Through an intricate system of feathery roots and fungus, trees exchange chemical signals. For example, if one species of trees is dying due to climate change, it will decide to give its nutrients to other tree species that will survive through its root system. (Listen to the science behind this discovery here: https://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_simard_how_trees_talk_to_each_other )

When we think of our own roots, we often think of dead, isolated pieces of history. Things that are hidden far below the surface and unconnected. Yet, if we think of our roots to be more like the roots of trees, we might treat our history a little differently. Something alive that anchors us to the present. That will get us through hurricanes and fires. A way for us to be connected to each other over vast distances. The deep roots that are at least twice as large as what you can see. Let us delve deeply into our religious roots to fully live our religious present.