Last week we suffered our worst storm in years. Thousands of neighbours lost power, water, heating and (worst of all!) internet, for several days. Normal life – cooking, washing, schooling – was completely uprooted. However, something much worse happened for me, we lost our favourite places….two of our local woods were devastated by the violent storm. When naming his character Arwen, I’m pretty sure Tolkien had a noble maiden in mind, rather than an extratropical cyclone of British winter!
Visiting our lost places after the storm, I was struck by two things :
Firstly a tangible sense of the raw power of nature, like being on an Avengers movie set. We humans are not in control, even in familiar places where we’ve convinced ourselves we are. The scale of the damage I had never witnessed before in the natural world. Decades of life uprooted overnight.
If anything, the last 2 years has revealed that we are, in fact, not masters of our own destiny. A tiny, invisible microbe has caused the whole world, with all its advanced technologies and economies, to tremble. Stock markets tumbled again yesterday based on a few words from a scientist about the threat of the new Covid variant now circulating our communities. Uprooting often happens suddenly, and unpredictably.
Secondly, when a place (or person) you love is uprooted, there’s a deep sadness. I kept saying to Karen “this is so sad”, because I couldn’t think of adequate words to describe the loss of wonder, peace and joy these woods bring me on my daily walks. Sudden uprooting is hard.
2021 may have brought uprooting for you – I’ve counselled many people through uprooting from their current employer, uprooting from old habits, uprooting from Aberdeen, and uprooting from many years of belonging to our church family to find another spiritual home, by the co-ordinates of grace. What happens when uprooting comes to you? Firstly you need grace and space to process difficult emotions. Uprooting often sucks, I’m still angry and sad in equal measure, and everyone I’ve met in these last 4 days feels a deep, shared sense of loss. Power, heating and water have returned, but our beloved woods have not. Families wandering in shock and surprise amongst the wreckage. Dogs delighted at the incredible array of new branches to chew and carry. The elderly cautiously watching from a distance, eyes moist with decades of appreciation
Secondly, and slowly, you begin to look for new ways ahead, new horizons, new places. This is a hard journey, with memories of the place (or person) you loved still strong. However, winter has much to show us about new beginnings…..about things falling to the ground in order to live again. Perhaps there will be enough sadness to galvanize a community restoration project. Perhaps we will just wait and pressure others (government) to ‘fix our mess’. Perhaps neither will happen, and we will never walk in our favourite places again.
Jesus knew what it was to be uprooted : as a toddler his parents fled to another nation, refugees running for their lives from a tyrant dictator. As an adult he had ‘no place to call home’ since he was often not welcome, due to the uprooting truth he was teaching and demonstrating to the world.
Look out for people being uprooted around you at this time, often this happens suddenly. Take time to journey with them, survey their sadness with honesty. It is possible to find the grace to carry you to the new place of re-planting that is intended for your growth in this strange time. May you continue to fall upwards in His love.