#thoughtfulthursday: Rock or Tree?

This week we have the first of our Guest blogs from Julia Tizzard, our Peaced Together Location Support

I was listening to the Simon & Garfunkel song “I am Rock (I am an Island)” this morning. If you don’t know it, the lyrics are from the point of view of someone who is choosing to hide from the world. This person decides it is better to feel nothing because they suffered hurt in past relationships: “If I never loved, I never would have cried.”

I may not go to this extreme, but sometimes it is all too easy to feel safe ‘hiding in my room’ as the circumstances of life become too painful to face. When close friends and family go through tough times, how do I respond? Well, like many of us I want to “fix things” for them! Acknowledging the fact that I often cannot do that, the alternative seems to be hiding away.

A few years ago, a friend and I were talking through this issue – how do I remain a good friend, stand with people in their pain and hold on to hope without being a “fixer”? How do I do this without being drawn into anxiety myself?

She reminded me that I could be like a tree, not a rock. Have you ever seen a tree with buttress roots?

Buttress roots (stilt roots or prop roots) are large roots on all sides of a shallowly rooted tree. They prevent the tree from falling over (hence the name buttress) while also gathering more nutrients. Many different types of trees grow buttress roots – even in the UK. They provide stability on sloping ground, with the roots growing unevenly in order for the tree to grow straight. Buttress roots enable a tree to grow tall and strong, supporting and sheltering others.

I can choose to be like a buttress tree – gathering the leaves and other rubbish, turning this into something which nourishes. Then, perhaps I can be a place of strength and shelter even when feeling pain myself. I am not a rock and (as the poet John Donne said), ‘No man is an island’.


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