“As my research has carried me back through the years, I have been brought to a greater appreciation and a keener realization of the refining and cultural influence that our homes, schools, churches and social orders have brought to bear upon our people . . . It is they who brought into being and nourished a community that is dear to our hearts and into whose sod our roots have truly grown deep and strong.” Carmen Taylor Bennett, from Our Roots Grow Deep, 1970.
I have been privileged to have come from deep roots, from pioneer ancestors who settled in and around the rural, hard-scrabble northwest Texas county where I was born and raised – the subject of Carmen Taylor Bennett’s book – to having strong family connections that can easily be traced back four or five generations or more. Roots are important, they ground us and nourish our souls in ways nothing else can. Yet in this fast-paced mostly urban lifestyle we live in today the depth of our roots has unfortunately become much more shallow. Many are disconnected from the strong generational ties that once existed. But people still yearn for deep roots, I believe, for roots provide valuable insights as to who we are and why we exist, and we all have a need for meaning in our lives.
Being among a privileged class with deep family and cultural roots as I am, however, while helpful is not the ultimate revelation of our human roots. It actually began, as I discovered when I started to study scripture in earnest, thousands of generations ago in our human ancestry; for as one reads the stories of the great characters of the Bible such as Abraham, Jacob, Noah, Moses, David, Solomon, Ruth, Esther, Job, and others we realize that their stories mirror our own, indeed they are “every man’s” stories – imperfect people whose roots are planted in the same soil as yours and mine. As Carmen Taylor Bennett said so well, “It is they who brought into being and nourished a [human] community that is dear to our hearts and into whose sod our roots have truly grown deep and strong.” So no matter who we are, where we were born, or what we may know about our ancestry, be assured that our roots all grow deep. We should all cherish and be nourished by those roots. They grow deep and strong in sacred sod.