Have you ever seen the Giant Sequoias in the northwestern United States? Also known as Redwoods, they are among the world’s largest and oldest trees – often growing to 300 feet in height (the height of a 26-story office building); 35 feet in width; and with bark that can be 3 feet thick! And they can live for up to 3000 years! General Sherman, the most well-known of the Giant Sequoias is 2100 years old and is the world’s largest organism, with a total volume of 52,000 cubic feet. Wow.
And yet, despite these amazing statistics, these trees actually have a very shallow root structure, which for most trees would be a death knell.
What is the key to their strength and longevity? Located along a narrow 260 mile strip on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it is their close proximity to one another that is thought to be the primary reason they are able to endure severe weather and other harsh conditions. Their closeness diminishes the impact of severe conditions – as they in essence shelter one another. But if one or two fall because of disease, the ones around them are then left more exposed to severe weather and often begin a slow, steady decline.
So it is with us. We are made to be in relationship with one another – in other words in close proximity. Together, as families, neighborhoods, faith communities and workplaces we are much more able to grow to our full potential and to remain strong and healthy. But when we become isolated from others, we are much more exposed to the harsh conditions of life and we find ourselves at risk.
This COVID-19 pandemic certainly threatens to separate and isolate us. But if we take steps to fight back and to compensate – through regular communication with family, friends and colleagues – and through assisting those in great need, we can remain strong and healthy, and together, get through this challenge.
Live as the Sequoias live – in close relationship with one another. And in doing so, gain the strength and vitality that all of us need to live our lives with greatness.
Have a great weekend.