My maternal grandfather immigrated to the United States from Kiev, Ukraine. Like many people, I have no idea who my kin are in the old country, but as war breaks out as I write this, my heart is sad. I feel a deep loss down to my roots. I wonder if my family has died or has been displaced.
Family trees are a mystery. Sure they are made more plain as folks participate in 23 and Me, along with other genealogical enterprises. There is a sense of immanence and transcendence in these tree mapping exercises—we are the flesh of their flesh and so are immanent, they are also transcendent as they cross time from the past to the now and into the future.
I have been thinking of roots this month as I lead chapel at the Day School where we are leaning into Black history month. Using the Scripture from Jeremiah 17:7-8, “The righteous shall be like a tree planted by the waters, and that spreads out her roots by waters, they shall not be moved,” Grace Sung, our Director of Music, and I have been teaching the children the power of roots. They are belting out the spiritual/freedom song, We shall not be moved. It is a hymn of conviction and resolve.
As we approach Ash Wednesday and the world is on the brink of war, I take comfort in the fact that our roots, and those of all humanity, extend into the heart of God. While there is profound brokenness emerging all around us in many lands, and indeed in our own neighborhoods, our roots are deep. We are like a tree planted by the water; we shall not be moved.
-The Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector