“Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” (Sir Walter Scott, “Marmion”). There is certainly truth in that well known phrase. However, this morning I am thinking of entanglements in general – how we get ourselves so twisted up we can’t seem to get on with life.
As I write this, I am at Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. The wild rhododendrons are in full bloom. Magnificent is an inadequate description! These flowers bloom mid-July throughout the undergrowth here at the high elevation. The rest of the year they appear as a tangled mass of vines – nothing like domesticated rhododendrons in our yards, those we find in carefully planted locations to best demonstrate the beauty of the flowers. Here, the wild rhododendrons appear randomly and unpredictably and sometimes in mass profusion.
There are stories of surveyors in the 1700s getting trapped by the vines, unable to do their work and only getting out of the region with great difficulty. George Washington was one who experienced the force of entanglement as he surveyed Lord Fairfax’s land for the mouth of the Potomac.
Our lives get tangled on a regular basis and it doesn’t have anything to do with a hike in the mountains. Often it is in relationships, be they work or personal. We become stuck in the roots of a problem. Sometimes we just can’t see any way out.
These wild rhododendron plants are a visual testament to strength and hope. Yes, sometimes, to get away from the roots and to get back on the path, it is necessary to cut some roots and leave them behind. Sometimes in our entangled lives it is also necessary to cut some ties and walk away from that which has held us down.
If you are cutting away at a plant, it is helpful to recognize the roots that nourish the plant and those that can be cut without damage to the plant itself. We don’t have to go through life chopping down everything in our way to get ahead.
And like the wild rhododendrons of the mountains, there are moments of amazing beauty even when life seems most entangled. Take the time to see the flowers of life, flowers that give life!