2021 05 13 Ascension Day
Alan Storey

Tree-Rooted-Ascension … The Tree Always Wins
[Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:15-23]


The disciples took “40 days” (a symbol for as long as it takes for new truth to be birthed from the time of conception) to come to the conviction, the knowing and the trusting that the Jesus-justice-Way of doing life reigns. The ancient language used to give expression to this conviction is of Jesus being “taken up”. This beam-me-up language metaphorically means above all other powers. Sadly, this Ascension levitating mid-sky metaphor has been taken literally, and when we take a metaphor literally, we end up with an absurdity.

Therefore, on Ascension Day I suggested another metaphor: Tree-Rooted-Ascension: The Tree always wins. Tree roots over time, crack and lift up massive concrete blocks. This is how it is with the Jesus Way of justice, mercy, equality, freedom, forgiveness…each of these may look foolish and weak in the face of the concrete injustice, inequality, vengeance and violence in the world, and yet they always push through in the end.

One way of discerning the difference between the “tree-rooted-way” and the “concrete-way” is that the tree-rooted way is grounded in love, while the concrete way is cast in fear (or love limited for a few). The difference is clearly seen when each way reaches fulfilment. When the tree-rooted-way of ascension reaches fulfilment there is life in abundance for all, while when the concrete ways reach fulfilment life is diminished, demeaned and destroyed for the majority. Furthermore, as the tree-rooted way expands it expresses itself in the form of powerful vulnerability, while the vulnerable power of concrete-way finally self-destructs.

Take one issue as an example: guns. The gun-violence-denialists would have us believe that if everyone had a gun, society would be safer for it. On the surface, this “concrete-way” of thinking may look like it offers a quick solution to personal safety but, in reality, it contributes over time to the increased insecurity and violence of society, the very problem it purports to solve. More guns = more gun violence. Striving for a gun-free society on the other hand is the slow and sure way of tree-rooted-ascension and when it reaches fulfilment, namely a gun-free society, life flourishes, not simply for a few, but for all.

I googled around a bit and I came across a company advertising a product that “can seal your driveway to treat cracks and prevent further intrusion from plant materials. Our special process and top-tier materials can extend the life of your driveway or other concrete surface and help shut out plant and tree roots. Contact us today for a quote!”

Note that their promise is not to eradicate the issue completely – because they know that they cannot accomplish that. At best they can “extend the life” of the concrete.

On the same website this is what they have to say:

“Which came first: the crack in the concrete or the plant? Many landowners with plants sprouting through sidewalks and driveways are curious about whether the plant took advantage of an existing crack or physically caused the fissure in the slab. The answer falls somewhere in the middle. The more you know about the cause of this costly concrete problem, the sooner you can find a resolution.”

Small Plants = Big Concrete Problems
“Your concrete contains microscopic cracks invisible to the naked eye. Plants have new cell growth at the tips of their roots. As the plant grows, so does the root system. The sensitive tips of the roots have the power to seek the path of least resistance for growth. Microscopic concrete cracks present this path for plants growing beneath your sidewalk.”

“Once a plant’s roots discover a microscopic crack in the concrete, they force their way into the slab. Even small weeds and seedlings have the power to displace concrete using potential energy from root growth. Over time, the plant’s continued growth can crack, break, or buckle the surrounding concrete – at which point you may see the plant break through the surface.”

Tree Roots and Concrete
“Tree roots present an even bigger potential problem for concrete surfaces. They move through cement in the same way as smaller plants, but with much greater potential energy. Trees near your concrete areas could push roots beneath and through the surface, causing expensive damage and dangerous cracks in the slab. You may have to cut the roots or even remove the tree to permanently resolve this problem.”

They may be a cement sealing company, but I must say that their theology is spot on. To say that “the answer falls somewhere in the middle” is 100% correct. The cement-way self-destructs while the Jesus-justice-way brings life. I love it that they admit that solid concrete is actually not so completely solid after all: “Your concrete contains microscopic cracks invisible to the naked eye”. This is so important for us to remember: When injustice and oppression look solidly almighty, they are not really. They are actually full of cracks! Cracks that we may not be able to see with our naked eye, but that which exist due to the self-destructing nature of every concrete mix.

This truth: injustices innate cracks together with justice’s new cell life at its root tips are what give us hope. Real reality bends towards justice and for this reason the Jesus-justice-way of the Tree always wins. Our work is to learn the humble subversive radically rooted ways of Jesus and to creatively incarnate them through our living.

In the Spirit of Tree-Rooted Ascension,

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