A Cause for Cambial

There are really only two reasons for the name of my blog that you need to know…

First… Cambial is the type of growth a tree undergoes and I believe there is something beautifully analogous about the life and growth of a tree to our shared human experience.

Second… I really love alliteration.

A little over two years ago at a small conference in D.C., I was doodling on my notebook, drawing what I had hoped would be my next tattoo. It looked a little something like this…


By the time I scribbled this down, these rooted giants had already begun to be a source of fascination. However, if you had asked me a year ago why I wanted a tree tattoo, the answer you would have gotten in return would have been something along the lines of endless ramblings that bored you to tears about why I thought trees were cool.

Fast forward to the present. That hodgepodge penned down picture of a tree has now traveled with me from Baltimore back to my childhood home, flown tucked away in my backpack for a move to California, and finally managed to survive yet again through the rather disheveled move to a new apartment down the block. But the image has evolved significantly over the time of its travels. It has gained new meaning, more depth. The tattoo I once desired out of intrigue has now become a symbol for my life.

Every winter a tree dies. Its leaves fall to the ground. It goes dormant. It is unable to produce fruit, to achieve its very purpose. Ironically, however, this is exactly how it grows – how it produces new life – because each spring winter’s death brings about flowers, reproduction, new height, wider girth, and deeper roots.

And this process is not only seasonal; it is daily, too. A tree grows under the constant reality that at any given moment in time, only 1% of its cells are living…1%! Are you getting what this means? On a day-to-day basis the only living part of the tree is its bark and outermost ring. It means that the tree literally lives in, through, and because of death. 1% life, 99% death.

Therein lies the beautiful analogy. The unattainable balance. A symbol to live by. It is only through our experiences of death that we live. Rather than run, why not embrace our rootedness in the cycle of life and death? Because whether we like it or not, winter always comes. It is my conviction that it’s how we sit in the times of winter that matters.

For more thoughts on life and death check out… http://samsstorybook.com/2012/10/30/we-are-what-we-eat/