Mallory Daily is serving this year as associate producer at Interfaith Voices, a public radio show about religion.
I’ve I've been thinking about roots lately and how we grow them. And where they grow from. And what happens when they’re uprooted.
Metaphor—it’s everything to me these days. Evidently I don’t have fibers and knobs growing from my toes into the ground. But I feel them there, depending on the day. There’s something about where I stand and how long I stand and why I decide to move that makes me wonder: where do I belong?
I ask this question as my LV year gets into full swing and, like all things in life, arcs toward an ending. So this question—where do I belong—is important, because before I know it this house is going to feel like home and I’m going to have to leave.
And I wonder why the leaving is so hard. How do my roots find their footing before I can even realize they’re alive?
Surely, it’d be more effective if the nourishment that keeps them healthy and strong went to my brain or my muscles or to someone else entirely. But instead, I find that these things—my roots—grow without my approval. They don’t ask me where I want them to start exploring, they just begin the search and find ground and dive into it with a purpose I have yet to discover.
So, my roots and I are at odds right now. Maybe it’s because every time they start getting comfortable, I start getting antsy. And I leave. And it’s hard to do that, but it’s done. And when the world is quiet and I think about things, I realize I have a choice to do the hard thing. And that makes my uprooting different from that of so many others.
I get to be excited. I get to adventure. I get to have something new waiting for me. I have enough water and shade and sun to chop off my roots without warning and expect them to survive the move.
But what about the people and the roots that don’t get to decide. What about families evicted, homes bulldozed into heaps of broken bricks. Today, in this city and this world, they fall to the ground like the overworked people that built them up. The forced vacancies quickly fill with shiny fitness gyms, pastel boutiques, and buildings with glass walls that aren’t actually meant to be seen through.
Lives, let alone the roots that feed them, are being destroyed a few blocks from my house. And I sit in my room on my computer thinking about how hard my life is.
And I think about how if I keep thinking about the differences, I’ll never get anywhere. Circles and cycles and systems are a few of the social justice crowd’s favorite words. But there’s a cycle in my head that I need to get out of and it’s not an obvious enemy from the start. I have to remember—I think—that my own suffering sometimes counts too.
And uprooting myself can hurt. Change is hard for everyone.
But it’s a choice for me, most of the time, to give up everything I’ve ever worked for.
This choice is sacred; I cherish it enough, I hope. I try to bow everyday to this community and this light that reminds me that this choice is not my own, but a connection that flows between us; and one day it will enter into the dark corners of circumstance and facticity, landing at the feet of a human being who has never before been granted the power to decide. And their roots will grow and grow and grow.
And someday, maybe, I’ll understand how the world works enough to stop writing in metaphor. But right now, most days our reality seems just bearable enough to embrace in the second degree.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.