Editor’s Note: We at Topology are currently on our annual publishing break. In the meantime, enjoy this bonus essay on the July theme of Roots!
These days I find myself cursing myself for growing deep roots. I know I don’t believe the words and the superficial longing to be transient that spill forth in my tears. However, in the raw pain of transplanting these roots, I forget the goodness and strength of my roots that now lay exposed.
I moved in 2 ½ years ago with a couple—friends who are now more like family. I never assumed I would live in this house with its smell of soil and wood smoke forever. But the likelihood of moving in the future did not slow me from growing roots. I made home and grew rooted in this place while cooking countless shared meals, making curtains and an icon shelf for my room, working to tame the backyard full of firewood and leaves, risking honesty in relationship, and loving deeply the neighbors and children who play in the backyard. From these deep roots I have grown and changed to the degree that my solo-apartment-dwelling self feels far. Though I forget that I can make home by myself arranging furniture and ordering art on the walls, I now live with gratitude for the fullness of my life and feel secure in my place in the world, believing that I am fully an adult, capable in making big decisions, doing hard things. I forget that I used to resist being undone before others, for now honesty before others feels important, true, and loving. I forget that I used to feel very unsettled in the two church worlds I stood between, but now I stand peacefully and joyfully between the Orthodox Church where I worship and the Protestant community where I live and work. And similarly, I forget that this living arrangement was not going to be forever. But I have to ask myself, if I had always reminded myself that one day I would leave, would I have grown roots that fostered such growth and love? I doubt it.
Over a course of weeks in early spring, we had conversations, rich in love and honesty that spoke with growing awareness and directness that this season of living together was ending. There was no fueling anger or blame. Rather we saw the arrangement was not giving life; we were inadvertently hurting and stepping on top of one another. Like plants bought from the nursery, dry and with roots bound by flimsy plastic pots, we need more space. The success and growth of living together meant we outgrew this shared house. These days, life together continues, but I find myself grieving for what I will soon leave. I will miss the trappings of this home that I have assimilated into my understanding home: the wooden bowls for yogurt, the art on the walls, the handmade broom and soap. Perhaps mundane, but most significant is that I will miss the daily refrains of “sleep well” and “good morning.” I want them to grieve as I do, but they cannot; their roots are not being dug from the ground. They assure me that they too are processing this transition before us all. I release them from being just like me.
Soon I will move. A hole in the ground to receive my well rooted self miraculously appeared two houses down several days after we decided I must look towards moving. The house keeps me near the neighbors and friends I love and keeps me close to the children of the shared backyard. I already planted a garden in the backyard for the house had stood vacant when I needed to make home this spring without sharing gardening space. The house helps me build my life around what I am most grateful for. There is much to rejoice in. There is much to anticipate. I know my roots will expand and deepen and I will be grateful for more space to breathe, to grow. I look forward to ordering a kitchen as I want, unpacking boxes of my belongings now dusty in the basement. I look forward to painting walls, digging up and planting plants without asking permission. I look forward to future interactions with my now housemates that are of deep friendship and playfulness without the raw rubbing that exposed roots receive. I look forward to seeing God’s faithfulness, the long story of friendship unfold.
Even knowing anew the risk of deep roots, I say once again that I will continue to grow deep roots. It is these roots that make me who I am, that give me stability, strength, and growth. It is worth the risk, even though as my friend reassured me, “Transplanting hurts like hell.”