Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of landscaping action outside of our offices. Lake Ridge Community Church and Synergy share office space at the new Centre for Community Leadership here in Chestermere. Dozens of large trees have been moved in with tree moving trucks and almost overnight the area around our building has turned into a beautiful park. Although trees were cut straight out of the ground and brought here from the tree nursery, some shrubs and plants come in pots. It is fine for plants to grow in pots. But if a plant grows without being moved from a pot, it can become root bound if it is not freed. Roots were not meant to be confined in a pot forever. They were meant to stretch out deep and wide in good soil. Often a gardener has to take drastic action to free up a pot bound plant. Roots on these plants coil around and around inside their container. When roots are so ingrown upon themselves they might not detangle themselves even if they are placed in healthy soil. A gardener may actually have to take a knife and break up a root ball before putting it in the soil. Freeing a root bound plant might seem destructive, but liberated roots help plants grow strong and healthy. In some ways we, too, can become root bound. In our desire for safety, comfort, and security, we may grow only to the size of the space where we live. If we believe that the size of our world does not extend beyond our front door, then our lives will not extend any further. If our ‘pot’ is made up of limited relationships and does not concern our neighbours, then our ‘roots’ will turn in and back upon themselves. We may want to grow and we may long for a meaningful life with others, but below the surface we may not be able to grow. We may be pot bound. Sometimes the hope we have for our lives may be greater than the environment where we find ourselves. So, in our sense of confinement and ‘stuck-ness’ we get anxious and think that moving, running away, or leaving is the solution. However just moving the pot from one place to another seldom leads to the kind of growth we crave. The way forward might come instead from allowing our lives to be opened up and for our roots to go deeper right where we are. Neighbourhoods can be places where our lives open up in new ways. Many of us long for a deeper sense of rootedness among people we can all our own. Yet truly healthy neighbourhood relationships often disrupt our tightly ordered world. We do not choose the people who live on our street, but they are often the people who can become most meaningful to us. In the same way a gardener breaks up a root bound plant so that it can spread out and grow, new relationships in our community can do the same. Connecting with those who are different than us may feel disruptive, but it can also be deeply liberating. Discovering that our lives can spread beyond our front door can bring life and joy, hope and new horizons. Engaging our community, eating with our neighbours, planning a block party or simply chatting with people on our street might be the start of a whole new way of life. May your roots go deep and wide as you discover new relationships in your neighbourhood this summer.