Archives, Biography, Pondering, Wheaton

A Root of Integrity

When I am in a season of seeking to remember and reclaim why I am alive, I reach for the novels of Elizabeth Goudge.  Finding myself once more in that season, I am re-reading my old friends.  The Scent of Water is among my top three of her stories.

Goudge, herself a devout Christian who wrote before there was a huge genre called “Christian fiction,” writes a profoundly truthful story of learning to love others in humble, hidden ways–and of discovering the meaning of one’s life along the way.

I find myself with favorite quotes the leave me pondering images and treasuring phrases.  Here is one of them:  “In obedience lay the integrity that God asked of her.  If anyone had asked her what she meant by integrity she would not have been able to tell them but she had seen it once like a picture in her mind, a root going down into the earth and drinking deeply there.  No one was really alive without that root.”

Integrity imaged as a root drinking deeply from water under the surface of the earth.  Such a plant must surely be the fruit of receptivity to God.

What are some of my integrity “roots?” I find myself a bit like Goudge’s character, cousin Mary.  I’m not sure I can describe them head on.  But when I act in accordance with them, I know water rises to the surface.  When I seek to ignore these long-nurtured roots of obedience I wither. I am blocking the water of my own integrity root, choking the life right out of it.

So here’s an example: yesterday I came home from Minneapolis by plane.  Even a short trip is challenging these days.  I would prefer to go behind the mask of my face and pull in. Anonymous. No energy expended for the stranger.  I went in and out of integrity for the several hours I spent in long lines and cramped cabins.  I was tired, but when I smiled and cared about the stranger next to me, the root found water.  And when I pulled in as on my own desert island, I, along with my neighbor, went without the water resting just below the surface.

Lord, have mercy.  May I act with the integrity of obedience that my life might tap into the depth of water that bathes those critical roots.

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