What I Learned from a Walk Through the Redwoods
Written by Megan Carson
Recently our family went on a hike in one of our favorite places - a spectacular State Reserve about a 40-minute drive from our home. This particular reserve claims to be home to the tallest Redwood tree in the world, though in their midst you feel like each one of them could be the tallest.
As you walk down into the cool, shaded grove of towering trees, you immediately feel microscopic amongst these gentle giants. Being the tallest type of tree in the world, they can grow to over 360 feet. With a height like that, you might assume that their roots grow hundreds of feet deep into the ground. But, interestingly, Redwoods have a very shallow root system that only reaches about 6-12 feet deep. Their strength lies in their roots stretching out, intertwining their roots with the roots of the other trees in the grove, reaching outward up to 50 feet, just below the surface of the ground.
These beautiful, majestic giants gain strength from being connected to each other. Their roots intertwine and merge into a connectedness that allows them to nourish each other and hold each other up. When winds and storms, floods and earthquakes come, these trees stand firm and tall because of the connected community their roots have created.
This most recent walk through this favorite Redwood forest followed a trail of thoughts in my mind about the individuals and families I've come to know who are currently seeking refuge from their war-torn countries and traumatic personal experiences. They have been uprooted, through no choice of their own, now seeking a safe place to plant down their roots in a secure spot that will allow them to find relief and refuge.
But, more than that, just like these Redwoods, they need places where they can find connection and community. They need others who will reach out and grab a hold of their tender roots, holding on to them and merging their roots into one. This connectivity will help us all grow into bigger, stronger individuals, than we can possibly be standing solo.
What we will find, I'm certain, is that those connections and that community will end up being just as much, if not more, beneficial to those of us who welcome them in and nourish them as our own. From my experience in coming to know the refugees in my circle of friends, they will add to our lives with a rich abundance, resulting in a community that is stronger because of who they are and what they have to offer.
Over the last year we have developed close relationships built on mutual trust with many of the families we help. We know their names, their personal stories, and individual needs. We are fully aware that our donations are only a temporary band aid for a larger problem. A bag of groceries only goes so far, and they will be back the following Saturday for more. Sometimes, though, we can make a bigger impact in someone’s life.
Selfies with friends. Shurooq and Sasha enjoy shopping together.
Suzanne Kaufman’s colorful illustrations are a delightful pair to Alaxandra Penfold’s narrative stating “all are welcome here,” no matter one's appearance or background.