Cottonwood thrives in the white sands of New Mexico. It is a rather remarkable feat. When I visited the largest white gypsum sand deposit in the world I came across these small groupings of shrubs growing in the sand dunes.
What I didn’t realize was that these were not shrubs but rather the tops of 30-50 foot high trees that were buried by the shifting dunes. The trees strive to keep branches above the sand and as long as they are able to that the tree thrives. At the bottom of the shifting sand dune, the cotton wood has dug it’s roots 3 feet deep to the water table.
This to me is a metaphor for faith. The shifting sands, circumstances in our life could indeed bury us but as long as two things are operating we will thrive. First we need to have our beings rooted firmly in what nourishes us. So when the winds are shifting / disrupting everything we were once confident in, if we are firmly grounded in what sustains us we will be able to stand. We might be shaken horribly by what is blown away but these things are not what sustain us.
Second we need to keep our interactions with the world, vibrant, responsive, green. In other words offering / sharing our hope, our love, our life with others. Remain engaged in the world. It might at first seem sense-able to hunker down and allow the storm to bury us / entomb us until it has passed but this is not the way of faith. Surrendering to the sand storm will mean our spiritual death. The cottonwood by sending its green branches high above the sands offers shelter, solace, even water to the animals that calls this desolate place home. We are called to do the same and even more so when the sands of harsh circumstances blow across the ground of our being.
And when the sands of life have shifted again, we remain as testaments to an enduring faith offering wisdom and hope to another generation. Blessings,