On Roots

Roots can have a variety of meanings:

  • The anchoring structure of plants or body parts as hair and teeth
  • The primary source of origin
  • The essential part or base element
  • Point of family ancestry
  • The note on which to build a music cord
  • The part of a word carrying the main meaning and forming the basis of the word by adding prefixes and suffixes

In our computerized world, root directories form the foundation of the operating system. When the power comes to the operating system, the computer begins to boot by looking for the primary operating directories – the root directories. Much like the trunk of the tree, the root directories lead to the subdirectories like branches of a tree. However, with the initial power source, these operating branches remain silent – actually lifeless.

The words Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelic Lutheran Church of America in this article sparked these thoughts and this post. (For the sake of disclosure, the ELCA is where my membership resides.)

Christians just began Lent – a season of reflection and renewal. With the Lenten season in mind, Bishop Hansen asked the following questions that (at least to me) are good questions for all – for theists, atheists, and agnostics – for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others.

  • Would you describe your life as rooted or rootless?
  • What are the signs for you that help discern whether we are rooted or rootless?

Opening image is the property of FractalAngel

36 thoughts on “On Roots

  1. Common to various versions of “root” is the concept of connection. For me, connection to self, to others, to nature…..these make me feel rooted. Lovely post and stunning video. Thanks.


  2. Ditto above. Frank, my “thinker” doesn’t work so well in the early a.m. but this is really a think prompt. Very good. I’m rooted but sometimes the soil is washed away when I’m watered too much; and have some stranglers – whatever those root/weed spinoffs are. Gotta go get another cup of coffee. Bravo!


    • Izzie,
      Driving last night I was thinking about easier questions as “what are your roots?
      … but these are difficult at any time – morning, afternoon, or night – but worthwhile. Thanks for commenting.


  3. And you forgot one key point, that “root” has a crossover between horticulture and mathematics, especially spacial geometry. After all, if you don’t plant in round containers, you get square roots. (Yeah, it’s a retread – so shoot me! 😀 )
    Define “rooted” between mental state and physical location. I am firmly rooted in my Chicago-area childhood and young adulthood, but during my early working years, I wandered the country like a gypsy. Today, I’m bound to a very small corner of rural SE Ohio, yet I feel no sense of being grounded or tied to this region in any way, physically or emotionally.
    But you, clever boy, wisely steered away from that most dangerous connotation of all relating to roots – the dark ones in a blonde hairdo, or worse yet, the dreaded … (Bum bum BAH!) grey roots! 😯


    • John,
      I know how important your Chicago roots are to you .. and bravo! However, IMO, it is easier to identify our roots (at different levels) than it is to answer Bishop Hansen’s questions … and that’s where I struggle. BTW I had hair roots in my list, but simply muted. 😉 Thanks for sharing.


  4. Roots, a rich topic for contemplation. For Christians, our roots are in Christ. When we are rooted properly, deeply, the rest of our lives can grow.

    On locational roots ( I think I created a new word). When I was younger, I wasn’t so interested in “putting down roots” perhaps because I spent the first 18 years of life in one town, in one house. After that there were many ‘rootless’ years. But now, perhaps because I am older?, roots are what I want, I want to know the pharmacist, the librarian, the mail carrier. I want to see the babies we baptize grow up and confirm their faith. I’m not quite ready to grow old, but I am ready to grow old here- where I live.


    • Kay,
      Well thank you for the kind words. My musical taste is fairly broad, but I simply keep my ears open. For instance, I’ve recently used World Music (in my sidebar) for some of my finds – but not this one. Nonetheless, many thanks again and thanks for commenting.


  5. Frank, it’s all your fault that I left my iPad in the restaurant after reading your post. Dazzled by the theme and the video, I somehow paid my bill for lunch but left my iPad on the table when I left. Fortunately, my waitress was a music student and returned my deeply missed property the next day :-))

    So, the post went deep as roots into my psyche and I was left pondering the questions that you posed. As a traveling musician in my youth, I carried my roots with me (I think of Woody Allen in Love and Death, with the piece of the land in hand) For many years, I traveled throughout the world, singing songs and living the itinerant life, carrying books and ideas with me everywhere. But when I bought my first house, I ordered plants within the hour after closing on the property, sealing my commitment literally with planting roots.

    I continue to carry my “roots” with me. Family, friends, and ideas, of course. But the garden, oh that is deep, deep, deep into the ground, and its roots nourish me beyond anything I could have imagined.

    Re Eric Satie of the soundtrack. He was part of the modern movement of art/music/culture in France at the start of the 20th century. “Gymnopedie” was popularized in the ’70’s by Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and continues to entrance listeners. Satie is considered one of the early progenitors of “ambient music” and Brian Eno and others owe him a debt of inspiration and concept. Sometimes “simple” can be best. 🙂


    • Lynn,
      Wow … the post caused you to leave your iPad behind? A tip of the cap to the good person who took care of it for you. Love the info regarding Eric Satie … it such a good piece. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about roots. On this post, I’ve just let people say they thoughts without questioning. Thanks for commenting.


  6. Great timing for this topic. I have recently been thinking about my “rootedness” 🙂 or lack thereof in my life. Also, relating this to wine I also recently learned that the grape root system in vineyards can grow as long as 30-40 feet. Therefore they never freeze no matter how many snow covered vineyard pictures you may come across. Talk about rootedness.
    Thank you,


    • Ernest,
      Glad you appreciated this post … and grapes are very rooted. I recall visiting a winery in the Paso Robles area …. high on a hill with limestone very close to the surface, yet the vines penetrated the rock … and I could taste the limestone in the wine! BTW – this place had wonderful views. http://www.calcareous.com/ Each of us could be ever so fortunate enough to be so rooted. Thanks for commenting.


  7. Hi Frank, Thanks for liking one of my posts. When I came back I clicked on one of your posts that WP recommended and it brought me back here.
    What an interesting post. I love the video and I agree with bestbathroombooks that
    “You keep blowing my theory that blogging is a waste of time. .. I accidentally learned something … and ….I love your examination of words”.


    • Rosie,
      This post has received a lot of hits because (in my opinion), it is list on the info that goes out. Glad you liked this one … and I enjoyed writing this one. Thanks for going back into my vault!


  8. Funny I stumble on this today – Was out taking pictures of old trees and their roots…if I ever get something written about it, Ok if I link back to here? Well written post.
    (and I love to discover roots of words – language is so intriguing)


  9. There are also polynomial roots, which may not offer much in terms of philosophy, but from which some rather neat computer graphics can be generated!

    ELCA, eh? My dad was a Lutheran pastor in the ALC back before the merger. (At this point I’ve moved on and left those roots behind.)


    • Wyrd,
      This graphic is quite interesting.

      Up … I’m an ELCA person – but not a cradle Lutheran (actually Roman Catholic) thus left my roots behind too – but married a Lutheran, and I’ve been happy with the transition. Thanks for sharing.


  10. Interesting indeed, Frank. I love the variety in your posts.

    I think… I think my life is rooted in love, but I wouldn’t say it’s flourishing in its expressions of life.

    Great post!


    • Noeleen,
      Wow … we went back in the time capsule for this … but it’s one that I enjoy. I recall the idea for this post was in the early stages, but then the song brought it together for me! Thanks for the kind words!!!!


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