A powerful storm blew into northeast Ohio off of Lake Erie on July 4, 1969.  We watched the skies become ominous out over the water and the idea of seeing a tornado seemed vey exciting until cooler heads prevailed and stern directives were issued by the adults for all of us to get down into the basement.

The storm came and went that evening but not without claiming several peoples lives and injuring a larger number of people in various parts of Northeast Ohio.  The 100 mph winds also destroyed plenty of personal property including boats and homes as well as having a devastating effect on trees.

Tree and roots

For part of the next day I walked around our small town where a number of rather large and very old trees had come down in the village park.  Some of the trees had actually been torn from the soil, roots and all.

Later that day I asked my father why the difference.  He explained to me that the roots of some trees went deeper than the roots of other trees.

I’ve noticed in life that if our roots don’t go deep enough, then when a powerful enough wind or a strong enough current in the form a crisis or challenge comes by we can be uprooted, knocked over or carried away.  We need both breadth and depth to our anchoring system of life if we are to survive, grow and prosper.

Root systems travel wide in search of water, nutrients, food (which comes from photosynthesis thank you Mr. Gullo) and oxygen.  As living beings we need the same things to grow physically.  We also need Hope, Encouragement, Patience and Love to nourish our souls.

The four qualities of Hope, Encouragement, Patience and Love help us to grow emotionally and spiritually adding to the chance for us to become contributing members of society.  All four also help us to get through difficult circumstances and experience a relatively balanced emotional life.  Without them, let’s just say, the effects can be devastating and life altering.


noun – the feeling that what iswanted can be had or thatevents will turn out for the best

verb – to look forward to withdesire and reasonableconfidence

When we are able to maintain hope or to recapture it if we have lost it, we are able to carry on lives that have meaning and purpose.  We are able to swing our feet out over the side of the bed and get about our day with enough energy to have a productive impact in our lives, the lives of others and on the world.  Without hope, everything becomes dark eventually and effort is no longer worth putting forth.  A person loses sight of the point of their effort and life loses it’s meaning.


verb – to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence

To be encouraged is a true gift.  Encouragement is often something we don’t give ourselves,  although when we are thinking clearly, we can.  When we encourage another, we are actually sharing our courage with them.  We are letting them know that we believe in them and believe they have what it takes to get through a challenge, overcome a difficulty or suceed at something that they had doubts about.  Often it is the only thing standing between a person and their willingness to push on.  A few words of encouragement can propel us forward.


noun – bearing ofprovocation, annoyance,misfortune, or pain, withoutcomplaint, loss oftemper, irritation or the like.

The ability to be patient either with ourselves or with others allows us to learn and grow in an environment absent of inferiority and shame – two thoughts that drain Hope from our lives.  Patience allows us the appropriate amount of time we need to develop the critical qualities and skills to have a rich and fulfilling life.  A severe lack of patience by someone in our life who is key to our development can be a soul crushing experience that may have long term, undesirable effects.


noun – a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as   for parent, child, or friend.

I once read book that referred to lab where cancer research was being done on rabbits.  Everything was controlled so as to get accurate data.  As time went by they observed something peculiar.  The results concerning one particular section of cages of rabbits couldn’t be explained.

While all the other rabbits were experiencing the negative effects of the cancers being studied, this particular grouping of rabbits wasn’t even though the identical protocols and procedures were being implemented.

What the scientists discovered eventually was that the cleaning person who cleaned the lab at night would stop and pet each of the rabbits in the particular part of the lab where the “abnormal” developments were happening.  The simple fact that those rabbits were receiving the warmth and love of human touch was causing the rabbits to live longer and healthier than all the rest of the rabbits in the experiment.

The absence of love can be felt and seen immediately and it doesn’t take a college (or kindergarten education for that matter) to be able to see it.  Experiencing a lack of love can leave us feeling utterly and completely alone in a crowd of 50 or 50,000 people.

There is plenty to be said for the life giving power of Love.  It heals, it soothes, it nourishes and it grows.  It is like sunlight and food and water and nutrients and everything that is good all wrapped up into one package.

Hope, Encouragement, Patience and Love allows us to be anchored to the things that give us life just as a tree is anchored to the soil from which so much of it’s nourishment comes.  These four attributes drive our roots deep and wide.  They help us to grow strong, straight and steady.  They nourish and strengthen our spirit.