Imagine that you are a tree that receives sustenance from the topsoil around you, and that this soil represents the things of the world. Health, material wealth, relationships. This is the soil into which you are planted and your short, scrawny roots depend upon this dry, shallow soil for Life.
If you aren't watered, however, your roots will eventually wither and die, and you will become a tree that is easily toppled by the storms of life.
Suppose now, that you are watered by God and your roots begin to grow, further and further away from the topsoil.
As these go deeper into the earth, the soil they reach is richer in nutrients, because the sustenance no longer comes from the things of the world but from the things of God. It takes a long time for your roots to arrive at this depth, but when they do, you find you are a sturdier, stronger tree, fed no longer by worldly soil but by divine earth.
At this stage, you are no longer a small, weak tree easily toppled by the wind, but rather have become a sturdy, strong being whose majestic branches spread far and wide, providing a shelter and shade for others.
The above parable was given to me by a spiritual mentor last week during my usual full moon bout with depression. As if God wanted me to know that, a tree that derives its sustenance from earthly things is not a tree that survives life's storms, neither is it a tree that can be useful to others. Without my health, material wealth and the ability to fulfill my life's ambitions, the slow, painful road of illness is one that is forcing me to dig my roots deeper into the earth in order to find my life's food. Yet this harder-to-reach sustenance, which is divine, is one that produces strength, power, stability, majesty, compassion towards others, and ultimately, peace. If only I extend my roots beyond the topsoil.