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Don’t forget your roots!

There is an old Chinese Proverb that says, “When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.”

A locally owned screen-printing company, Lewistown Printworks, has designed a graphic that has the outline of a large tree with a very complex root system. Underneath the tree are the words ROOTS, then Mifflin County and a keystone. When looking at it, I instantly felt a connection, a sense of pride as it took my mind back to my own personal roots. My mother was born and raised in Mifflin County, and my father in Juniata. I have fond memories of spending time in each, from running free in the mountains of Blacklog, Juniata County, to shady picnics at Reeds Gap State Park in Mifflin County, and many adventures in between. There were always friends and family around and my sense of belonging was strong.

So, why is understanding our roots so important? Just as we see in nature, they keep us securely grounded and supported. When the winds of problems, difficulties and change come our way, and I guarantee they will, they keep us from falling. Roots also act as a conduit conveying nutrients that trees need to survive. In the same way, we receive encouragement and strength from those around us which helps us stand firm and flourish. If those roots are damaged or destroyed, the tree will then suffer and not reach its full potential, as can we if our support system is lost or damaged.

Our support system may come in the form of family, friends, associates, community, or even mere acquaintances and each offers their own unique method of support. Though flawed and imperfect, as are we, they are still a valuable, integral part of our own personal root system. If we look closely, each possess many wonderful attributes which contributed to making us who we are.

I encourage you to surround yourself with others who will push you to continue to thrive and grow, to be a better person. I also implore you to be that positive force to those in your circle of influence, to push them to be their best. When this happens within a community, you soon find yourself encompassed by a veritable forest of stalwart trees that can withstand whatever storm may come, even a devastating pandemic. Now, more than ever we need to be there for each other, freely providing all the support that we can. It is hard to know what others may be enduring in silence, possibly alone, that we may be able sustain with just a few kind words or actions.

Amy Carmichael, a young woman who spent 55 years of her life serving the poor in India, put it this way, “Let us not be surprised when we have to face difficulties. When the wind blows hard on a tree, the roots stretch and grow the stronger, let it be so with us. Let us not be weaklings, yielding to every wind the blows, to be a better person but strong in spirit to resist.”

¯¯¯

Rhonda Moore is executive director of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce.

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