What the heck does that mean? Let’s stop and think about our life for just a moment… there are areas of all of our lives, I suspect, in which we could point at and say that it has remained pretty constant and hasn’t changed much over time. The style of my wardrobe hasn’t shifted a whole lot over the years even though clothes come and go. I can pretty much assure you that if Bob Dylan comes out with a new recording, I’m going to get it. Most weeks I’m going to eat Mexican food at least once. You get the idea… and you have your constants.
But then there are those areas of our lives where we are growing and evolving. There are those areas where the events in our lives such as losses (jobs, loved ones, end of marriage and so on) have forced us to grow. Then there are those areas where we have felt an internal motivation to move in new directions. Be it new careers, new hobbies, new relationships, moving to a new city, new friends, exploring and learning about new areas, or any other area of your life where you are called to express something new… all of these areas in which we expressed newness are our growing edges.
I came across this concept recently in a new book I was reading called “Social Change 2.0” by David Gershon. The author’ s objective was to outline a model of instituting positive social change on the planet. He describes his efforts to motivate people so that the changes in their lives would “stick”. Ultimately he decided to look at the evolution of a human being into new areas of change by exploring what the multibillion year evolutionary experience of our planet could tell us. There he saw that the natural world offered us a model for looking at continuous growth, and that model was the “growing edge”.
Gershon writes: “If something is alive it is always growing. There is always the next shoot, bud or growing edge. A tree is a good example, if you look at the shoots on a branch that are just coming into existence. This is where the tree is most vital. It is where the trees life force is the strongest. It is where there is the greatest degree of aliveness. These growing edges have several distinct properties. They are fragile and vulnerable, without any bark protecting them against the element’s. They are soft and have the green color of new life. They are unique to that branch of the tree. While all trees share the same process of growth, each branch looks different depending on the unique circumstances and stage of its growth. There is no right growing edge for a tree. There certainly is no way to say, one growing edge is better than another or one branch should be like another branch. The only meaningful criterion is the quality of the trees aliveness. If a tree is fully alive it is always growing and has many growing edges. If there are no new growing edges coming into existence than the tree is atrophying and moving toward death.”
I like this concept of a growing edge. As I visualize my life as if it were a tree, I can now sense those areas that don’t change at all and give me strength and stability as my “roots”. My moral standards and sense of responsibility, which were ingrained in me from an early age are examples of such roots. They continue to anchor me, as the winds of change blow through my life. Then there are those areas which continue to change and grow but at an extremely slow pace. We might consider this as the bark on a tree. My clothes, my musical taste, my desires for certain food and similar things have grown through the years, but overall, have remained fairly steady. And then there are those vulnerable edges, where newness extends outward, the new branches and new leaves of our life. New jobs, new relationships, new learning, new turns on the spiritual path — — areas of growth, areas of vitality, areas of uniqueness.
The mystic Ernest Holmes wrote . “Life is activity, and when we stop being active we turn away from the newness of life…today can be filled with wonder if we know that we stand on the threshold of that which is wonderful and new.”
So the question is… are you living on the growing edge or are you fearing change and newness? I invite you today to contemplate your life using this model of the growing edge to help you gain a sense of where your roots are, where you’re branches are, and most importantly, where the newness of life is expressing in the experience of you as something wonderful….
Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!