I had an image/sort of dream on waking about a week ago of a massive, mature tree being pulled out of the ground and shaken.

Then I felt reminded of a segment in a radio programme I’d been listening to recently about the violent storms in 1987 (some say hurricane) and the devastation caused at Kew Gardens.  A third of their mature trees were lost.  Many were 200 yr old and more than 100 ft tall.  The landscape was changed in one night.

One particular tree was lifted clear out of the ground and dropped back down again.  Because of the amount of work to be done all around the park with so much clearing to do it was left.  It not only survived but thrived. Also, because so many tree roots were exposed above ground they were able to be studied in detail.  Experts were amazed to find how shallow tree roots were, no deeper than 1 metre, in even the most mature trees.  The roots though reached a long way sideways.  More than realised.

The other detail was that roots were suffering for being badly compacted.  (1.5 million visitors walking around them).  With the roots freed the trees thrived amazingly.  This information has changed how the trees are now looked after. They have found ways & equipment to regularly “free up the roots” and the area around trees are protected.

We are in the midst of a hurricane presently, causing unprecedented change and disturbance in our society.  The tree is the church.  Lifted up and dropped back into the ground we see it looks different to what we thought.  Yet God is reassuring us it will thrive incredibly.  The roots will reach out in all directions – a long way out and not just in the way we anticipated. All this with growth will be with relatively shallow roots but strong roots nonetheless.  Not just going back to what it was.  Reaching places we didn’t expect or imagine.

I feel that the compacted, hard soil trodden down over the years is our society.  British society.  Yet with the turmoil/hurricane of Covid 19 all the ground has been loosened – home life, work life, church life.  Government is different.  Community looks different.  Public service will be different. But although this loosening is devastating and brings with it pain and damage, in the planting back of the Church – it will grow and it will thrive as never before.  It will reshape the landscape of this country in our churches and in our local communities.