Rise Out of Rootedness


Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen -Rootedness6

We left the sliding doors of our minivan open as we slowly drove away from the ranger’s station and into the forest. After the summer heat of Beirut and the coastal towns we’d been visiting the past week, this fresh mountain air was a relief and a balm. The breeze drifted through the car as we rounded each bend of the mountainside, carrying the smell of pine needles and honey.

Today our friends had brought us to see the great Cedars of Lebanon. They grace Lebanon’s flag, they appear in our holy scriptures—the very Temple of God was built by Solomon from their wood. But today, just 13% of Lebanon’s cedar forest remain, after centuries of deforestation by countless invaders and traders. They are an endangered species.

At the top of the hill we parked the car, and a ranger walked us through the glade of ancient trees, some many hundreds of years old. They are slow growing, these stunning trees, their trunks winding around and up with beautiful curves, like a woman becoming comfortable with the strength and allure of her own body.

And their roots go deep, roots that will allow them to endure the snowy winters and dry summers, to thrive in that mountainous terrain.

The memory of wandering under the ancient branches of those trees stays with me in such a vivid way that I can almost smell their pine needles still. They have been speaking to me ever since that trip, and this is what I have heard: we need to go deep before we can go high. But that going deep? It happens as life is going on—as bitter winters freeze us and warm summers satisfy us.

Life doesn’t stop, doesn’t give us long beautiful time-out on retreat until we’re ready, until we’ve grasped our calling. No, it’s when we’re knee deep in the grit and the grime of life, when we’re marching alongside our sisters for the rights of women everywhere; when we’re clamouring for compassion for the refugees at our borders; when we’re making Christmas hampers for the destitute in our communities, and setting up turquoise tables in our front gardens; when we’re juggling kids and marriages and church responsibilities and aging parents and sickness and one too many unanswered prayers.

In those moments, when we lean in to the joy and the struggle, our roots deepen. Roots that are made of love, and mercy, and kindness. Those roots know that no matter how difficult the environment becomes, there is living water to draw upon. Always. Abundantly.

I struggle to know how to respond well to the devastation I see every day in the news. There is so much suffering, so much injustice. The temptation is to wait until I feel prepared, until I feel like I understand the issues in depth, until I have a little more margin in my life.

But I think God is telling me I was created to be a cedar, and my roots will go deep even as I reach my branches up to the sky. God doesn’t pull us out of our lives to prepare us; the preparation happens precisely as we begin to act, until we suddenly realise that this season we thought was the backstage, the rehearsal, is actually the live performance.

Growth can feel slow, and results can feel far off, and life can feel like you’re stuck in the neutral zone. But here in this ordinary, in every small action of love and compassion and righteous anger, something profound is happening under the surface. Roots are going down, way down, to living water and to the rock that cannot be shaken.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” —Eph 3:17-19

We rise out of that rootedness. When we know we are beloved, when we begin right there, then what rises up within us will have the strength, the beauty and the endurance of one of the mighty cedars of Lebanon.

Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona lives in London with her Danish husband and her two young children. She is determinedly seeking the sacred in the ordinary, learning to see that even the most mundane moments of her day can be spiritual if she wakes up to the Divine in those places. She is in training to become a Spiritual Director, and baking is her favourite spiritual practice. You can follow her through her blog at fionalynne.com.
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen
Fiona Koefoed-Jespersen

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  1. I love this so much. “God doesn’t pull us out of our lives to prepare us; the preparation happens precisely as we begin to act…” It’s so true. This was beautiful.

  2. Courtney Grager says:

    Hi Fiona,

    I love this piece.

    I’d like your permission to use some of your beautiful wording in my prayers at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle this Sunday. I will offer attribution if the prayer is pushed to our social media sites.

    Thank you,

    • fiona lynne says:

      Hi Courtney, absolutely! Sorry if I’m a little late replying but please go ahead, I’d be honoured. x

  3. Jo Cameron Duguid says:

    This is stunningly insightful, Fiona. I believe this idea of the roots growing downwards as one grows upwards applies to love and marriage too. Loving each other through sharing everyday life produces visible growth as the roots continue to get deeper and stronger.

  4. This description: “They are slow growing, these stunning trees, their trunks winding around and up with beautiful curves, like a woman becoming comfortable with the strength and allure of her own body.” Gorgeous! That will stick with me. Love it.

  5. I love this, Fiona! Reading your words, I hear the echo of my spiritual director who is often reminding me that these days I am living are the times God is doing a deep work. It’s freeing and a bit scary to think that we don’t have to wait for ___ before we can begin! How amazing that we are beloved.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Yes, a deep work. I struggle often to have eyes to see it, but how beautiful the moments I do grasp it. x

  6. This is beautiful, Fiona. I too have been carrying around this picture of rootedness, this prayer of being rooted and grounded in love. It helps me to not be paralyzed or to react only out of fear or fury.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Oh yes, I like this. That sense of rootedness keeping us from burning up under the harshness of the world. Thank you for that perspective. x

  7. Love love love this Fiona. “God doesn’t pull us out of our lives to prepare us; the preparation happens precisely as we begin to act, until we suddenly realise that this season we thought was the backstage, the rehearsal, is actually the live performance.”
    I so needed this reminder today, in this season. Thank you xx (Also: you are a poet! I really felt that as I read this <3)

  8. Nichole Bilcowski Forbes says:

    Such a beautiful reminder. I, too, have felt unqualified and unready to respond adequately to the turmoil and need I see around me but it’s so true … we become ready as we DO.

    Thank you for these words and for sharing your cedars … I will be thinking on them for quite some time.

  9. Helen Burns Helene Burns says:

    ‘We rise out of rootedness’ – this is a powerful picture to me as I feel like I’m a slow-grower. For most of my life, I have dreamed of and longed for fast or immediate growth and I have come to realize that the miracle lies in the willingness to stay at my post, to show up every day and trust the outcomes to God.

    I absolutely love, love, love this post Fiona. Thank you for writing it so beautifully and sharing it with us. I needed your wisdom today. xo

    • fiona lynne says:

      “The miracle lies in the willingness to stay at my post”. THIS. I’ve been thinking about the idea of stability recently so this is a timely thought for me – thank you!

  10. YES!!!! I always look for an escape to find growth. If only I had extended time for prayer. If only I could get away for a retreat. If only… Tomorrow… Soon… In the hard, prickly parts of life, I so easily stay shallow instead of letting my roots grow deep. Thank you for this much needed encouragement to be planted where I am right now and let it grow me!

    • fiona lynne says:

      YES. All the “if onlys” easily become excuses for not trusting the growth, trusting the strength that is already there, trusting the water we reach. x

  11. I’ve felt this before, and your words bring it back so clearly — emerging from the mist of a hard season, and realizing that growth has happened in some small way.

    Here in my wooded yard, I have clear examples of trees that have NOT gone deep before they went high, and their gradual leaning lands them in the wood stove — so that they don’t fall over and cause damage. (Scary metaphor)

    May we be “like trees, planted by the rivers of water that bring forth fruit in their season, whose leaves shall not wither . . .” I always appreciate your ability, Fiona, to take me with your words right to the place where you heard from God.

    • fiona lynne says:

      Oh that is a powerful image! The leaning tree that topples eventually in the wind. What a gift that creation offers us images of both extremes for us to meditate on. x

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