A key ingredient to thriving is feeling connected to others, and family is a natural setting for nurturing those emotional ties. Quentin L. Cook said, "We should be connected to both our roots and our branches." Today I thought about both aspects. My sister-in-law welcomed a new little one in to her life and instantly we all were connected to him through the miracle of modern technology even though we physically were many miles apart. The branches of our family tree all focused on the new little one, oohed and awed over his tiny little fingers, and cherished each wonderful photo. In my busy hectic day, I could pause and reflect on the life of each one as they congratulated my sister-in-law and think about their particular trials and situations in life. Branches. Individual families connected together through a common root. Being connected to other branches gives our lives a richness and joy we would not otherwise experience if we were just alone as a single trunk. Branches don't have to just be families. Some of us weren't given the opportunity to share this life with large families, but we still are connected to friends and other important people in our lives through some common root. By design, I believe we were meant to reach outward and connect with others, intertwining our lives with theirs.
I also thought about roots today. My daughter is reading "Man's Search for Meaning" in school and so we had a chance to talk about her Jewish ancestry as well as German ancestry. She is interested in her roots and would like to know more. Again, feeling connected to others brings a richness to our lives. In exploring our roots, we learn of legacies and inheritance. We begin to recognize the varying pieces that end up contributing to our own lives and characters. Perhaps we have Grandpa's eyes and Grandma's propensity to worry about things. Maybe we have Great Grandmother's love for dancing or Great Uncle's interest in music. I remember feeling a special kinship with a great great grandmother who was also a kindergarten teacher like I was. Though I had never met her, I felt a keen love for her knowing we both enjoyed working with children and educating young minds. I watch my children as they grow and begin to explore their roots and how it helps them feel connected to a past. It gives them strength and a sturdiness in a world of winds and storms attacking who they are. Yes, I believe we should be connected to both our roots and branches. A tree needs both leaves and roots in order to harvest sunshine and water and create life-sustaining food. We also need both to feel the life-sustaining energy and to be strengthened and nourished. Reach out to your branches and explore your roots and you might just feel a little more like thriving.