Rooted and Grounded

Rooted and grounded in the name of the Lord
Rooted and grounded in the Holy Ghost
If you want to go to Heaven
Got to be rooted and grounded
Rooted and grounded in the name of the Lord

As the song cycled through stanza and chorus for twenty minutes, the minibus passengers began to sing along, including the driver. I was sitting near the front, so I couldn’t escape memorizing the song, even joining in near the song’s end. Throughout the week, the song’s chorus came to mind, as my mind wandered in class, as I watered plants at our demonstration plot, as I sit here typing these letters. Regardless of spiritual beliefs, the song stuck with me, and I could no sooner shake it than I could forget why it stayed with me in the first place.

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Peace Corps Jamaica 87 Demo Plot- Photo Credit Evan Adams

“Bloom where you are planted.” As the teacher spoke from the pulpit (“you will not get a preacher this morning, you’ll get a teacher”) of knowing your purpose, she underlined the importance of service and passion. She beseeched us to dream, to know our passions and use them to find our purpose.

My brain buzzed with images of seedlings, roots, a life ina Jamieka coming from farin. How could I be rooted when I wasn’t sure where my roots lay? How would I ground myself on foreign territory? Would my passion for service, for love, lead me to push out roots, searching farther and deeper for that which drives me inexorably on?

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Hibiscus at my Jamaican home :

As an environmental Peace Corps Trainee -a fledgling Volunteer gaining her wings- the metaphor of plants and roots is apt, and a reminder to stay present and alive, nurtured by the elements and care of fellow Trainees and Jamaicans. Plants expend great energy pushing out roots, and struggle to keep them strong. This struggle often makes the plant healthier, as when vines that aren’t coddled produce the best wines. As far as metaphors go, this symbol of a strong, sometimes struggling plant, fruitful not pampered, fills me with hope. I will push out roots gradually, often unbeknownst to me.

One day I’ll have my first full conversation in Patwa, my host mom will call me daughter, and I’ll make yams, dumplings, and jerk chicken for dinner. That day I’ll know how the roots have pushed just a bit deeper.

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