“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken; the crownless again shall be king.”
There are many layers of wisdom and meaning in this well-known quote of J.R.R. Tolkien. I want to focus on one in particular: “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
We all have something that we’ve built our lives on, something that we’ve dug our roots into. It’s the base upon which we stand, when everything else falls. And the more deeply this conviction is rooted in us, the stronger we stand in time of adversity. We might place these on any number of things, our health, our looks, our job, our family, our status, our country, our God. But most of these cannot stand the test of time.
So how deep are my roots? Where does my lifeblood survive, in the midst of the bitter cold of howling winter? Am I rooted in God, in strong habits of virtuous life, forged over time with effort and persistence and patience? Or does everything that I think I am pretty much stand on favorable circumstances?
I fear the latter, in my own case. I have never faced true hardship in my life. A few losses, a few challenges, a discomfort here, an inconvenience there. What should I do about it?
I can form myself, introduce hardship into my life, to strengthen and train myself to resist in the face of adversity. To prepare my body and mind as well as I can to face whatever hardships await me. But that’s only have the picture.
“I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” – Our Lord, John 15:5
I can put down deep roots, but unless life can flow through those roots, what good will it do us? Yes, form myself, yes prepare myself, yes do everything I can to be the best I can be. But I can’t forget that ultimately, life flows from Him.