Root bound

by Christine Berglund

Having too many basil plants is a good thing, right? What happens, unfortunately, is that the extra ones don’t get planted fast enough. Then the little block of soil becomes a tight mass of roots, trying to push its way out of the starter pot to get some real nourishment.

Don’t get me wrong, the plant looks great. If left in this rootbound condition, however, it would soon turn yellow from lack of nourishment, and die an ugly death.

Taking the little plant out of its pot this morning, I noticed the tender white roots were wound around and around themselves. This is the part where I cringe; those roots must be roughed up a little so that they can break their habit of going in circles, and spread out into the soil as the plant grows.

Disturbing the happy little circle of roots is one of my least favorite tasks in the garden. I really don’t want to break up perfectly good roots!

However, I recall sadly digging up plants that did not do well, and seeing their pitiful roots were still in a square or circle shape from the starter pot, many months later.

So it is with our lives. We get used to a routine or a habit, or even a way of life that may be fine temporarily, but is not beneficial long-term. A habit or routine may not be bad in itself, but if we can improve on what we are doing, so much the better!

I will soon be starting a new career path; and although it is exciting, it is a little frightening at the same time. Job change is not that momentous compared to some life changes:

  • death of a loved one
  • losing a job
  • moving long distances.

These things will surely give us some transplanting shock as they happen.

What we must be wary of is letting our lives become root bound by resisting change and growth as they naturally happen. We go around in circles, much like those thin little roots on my Basil plant.

We consume all that is in our lives, as the roots consumed the soil that they displaced. We cannot continue to live in our own little world without becoming weak spiritually.

When we do get ready for something new, we expect a little loss, too. As the roots were spread out to grow into their new spot, we may lose a little of our “roots” as well. It is entirely normal to expect a little grief over what used to be, in favor of what will be.

At the tender age of nineteen, I traveled half a continent with my new husband when he enrolled in a School of Preaching in Denver. Yes, my roots felt a little torn up!

The rich nourishment in my new home was more than worth the tiny loss from leaving the old one. In fact, it probably was the best decision my husband and I have made together.

Have we outgrown our surroundings? Sometimes change is necessary, as long as it is within God’s plan.

My basil is a little wilted now from the stress of having its roots rearranged. It will do fine in the open soil, where they can be harvested when I pick tomatoes. The closeness to the house is a bonus, too; I just learned that basil repels mosquitoes.

This little extra plant will now have a much more useful existence. I will try my best not to resist change, but to allow it work for good (Romans 8:28).

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