A Tree and Its Roots

By Chad Carroway

Back in the late 70's...on a normal day after school, just before dinner, the sky was overcast and cold. For some reason, the image remains in my memory thirty-five years later. I was wearing a favorite Cardigan sweater, Navy blue with a pair of white rings around the Left arm. The tops of the Ranch-Style homes were visible from my viewpoint — bike tires, sneakers, frisbees...if it existed, we had it on our roofs. On this particular afternoon, all of the kids on the block were standing around by the culvert. That is everyone but me. Yep, I was at the top, ten-to-twelve feet higher than the peasants of my former world — king for day. I had climbed to top of the scrawny tree in the Presnell's yard, the dare — accepted and conquered!

That royal stint...short-lived.


Darkness slowly allowed light to creep in and I needed something...air! My next breath!

The top of the tree (the section exclusively in my grasp) completely separated from the main section of the weak tree and I had plummeted to the ground, I landed flat on my back. So, there I was...rolling around in my neighbor's front yard, all of my friends were watching helplessly (I am sure some snickered) while I fought for air...any air!

While in agony, the scrawny tree...leaned limp over me. It was maimed and split at the top after giving way to my fall. We were both such a pitiful sight, yet I was completely the one to blame. Slowly, allowing more oxygen to my lungs, the tears gushed. I made my pathetic walk home (back to peasanthood), with snot, dirt, and other unknown particles caked upon my face and body. Our house was a couple hundred yards away — I believe my sister translated for me as the details were relayed my mother. In no way was I able to communicate after that fall.

After recovering, in retrospect, I remember standing below the tree, looking up and wondering why I even accepted the dare in the first place. Later on in life, however, that day provided a teachable moment.

When climbing a tree — just like taking steps in life — I learned to be careful about stepping further than my footing can provide support. When a tree outgrows its roots there will be trouble. Since that day I have made mistakes and more will be made. In regret, one of the toughest lessons in my life has been, avoiding wise counsel. Particularly, the exact same advice that I had given to another in the past. This is known as Hypocrisy — guilty as charged! Not doing in my own life what I would want for my own children and loved ones.

My wife and I are still in the process of raising our three boys...we have been for nearly 20 years. The lesson that I learned on that overcast day has been employed (whether they realized it or not) to caution them on more than on occasion, I have noticed one or all of them scaling a flimsy “Japanese Dogwood' or inching too far away from the warm and fuzzy safety of an Oak's massive trunk. It is at that moment, it seems that the physical breath vacated from my lungs in the late 70's quickly inflates my parental intuition to warn them in the present.

That simple moment was such a huge lesson to benefit my sons and hopefully generations-to-come. So be encouraged to grow from your mistakes and please know this...there will be more disappointments! But stay rooted, grounded in what is absolute and good. Yet, when (not if) you make mistakes, be sure to learn from them. Stay within the strength the tree and your established, strong roots.

Collossians 2:7-8 ”...rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8)See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”