Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Deep Roots

Daily Gratitude Year 4-Day 284: Today, I am grateful for deep roots.

"When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind."

Roots. We all have them. Alex Haley's book by the same name was published in 1976. He traced part of his families history back 200 years. He discovered that his grandfather, with many "greats" in front of it, arrived in America on a slave ship on September 29,1767. 

Alex Haley stated that September 29, 1967, when he stood at the site in Annapolis, Maryland, where his ancestor had arrived from Africa in chains exactly 200 years before was one of the most emotional moments of his life. He book fueled genealogy interest here in the United States and it continues today. For me... Ellis Island is that place for the part of my ancestry I know. 

Haley's roots were not just in Africa. His research found  CherokeeScottish, Mandinka and Scots-Irish heritage in his veins. A seventh generation descendant of Kunta Kinte, but that was just one root of his family tree. A strong one, but only one. Slavery of any kind leaves scars. Alex Haley seemed to use his writing to draw on the strength of the human spirit through all kinds of grief, loss, sadness, beatings and brutality. It was a powerful book and it was made into a mini-series most of us remember watching. 

In the middle of our Bi-Centennial American celebration, we were reminded of some of the shadows that still hanging over our country. Alex Haley, like every other American that isn't Native American, can reach back in time and uncover the names and the stories of the path that brought our ancestors to North American shores.  Some came for adventure. Other, to avoid starvation. Some carried small bags and big dreams, but little else. Most had some kind of scars. Maybe not obvious scars, like Kunta Kinte's, but certainly it was not all peaches and cream and the American dream. 

Roots give us comfort. Knowing who we are and where we came from. Many cultures record and protect family tree lines. We are slow to that idea as we focus on being "self-made" here. We forget that the strength, wisdom, work ethic and survival skills of those before us are a part of who we are. We are not the color of our skin. We are, thank God, not our political leadership. We are the people. Brothers and sisters of our states, our counties, our cities and villages...and in our places of worship. We  are all uniquely connected. The desire was to form "a more perfect union" through "justice" and "liberty". 

100 years after Kunte Kinta arrived on a slave ship, the Civil War nearly destroyed this nation. 100 years after the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement brought about some more change. Today...50 years feels as if we have taken several step backwards. Perhaps it is because of the media and social media shining the worst of us in our faces and not the best of us. I love what Alex Haley's father taught him.

Get educated. (His dad was a professor)
Develop discipline. (Study and search for answers)
Serve your country. 
(He enlisted in the Coast Guard)
Lift up people. 
Celebrate survivors.
Develop roots.
Learn from the past but don't let it destroy you. 

A man's worth has nothing to do with the color of his skin, and everything to do with the darkness or the light in his heart. 

Colossians 2:6-8 speaks of the importance of roots in faith, too. 

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 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.
A deep rooted tree need not fear the wind! 

Today, I am grateful for deep roots.

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