In India, there is a tree that can grow to cover an area the size of a city block. Banyan trees are a part of the fig genus and begin their lives as any other tree would; starting as a sapling and stretching into the sky to become a fully grown tree. However, Banyan trees are quite unique from here on; their branches grow away from the trunk of the tree and stretch, like large fingers, into the distance. To combat its’ heavy branches from breaking, the Banyan tree grows a root, which it shoots into the ground below this outstretched limb, as a support structure. Because of this ability, the Banyans’ branches can continue growing and sending down more roots into the soil beneath them. Eventually, the Banyan tree dominates the landscape in a maze of branches and roots, all supporting each other.
A look beneath the massive Banyan tree indicates that nothing significant grows underneath its’ umbrella. The tree is so dense with foliage that it shuts out all light beneath it, hindering the growth of smaller plant life. The tree also uses all the nutrition from the soil it inhabits, starving any remaining plant life which might survive the shortage of sunlight.
But, this tree is not all terrible. The fruit which the Banyan tree creates provides a rich food source for a variety of critters; birds, insects and smaller mammals. These creatures nourish themselves from the figs and move on to disperse the seeds of other plant life in the ecosystem, not directly inhabited by the Banyan. The tree also plays host to a very specific, tiny wasp species which can only breed inside the Banyans fruit. Therefore, the Banyan tree plays a significant role in developing and enriching the ecosystem around it.
Just as the Banyan tree can be seen as an overbearing, life-stifling monster; it can also be viewed as a life-giver and protector.
Father’s (and fatherly figures), take a moment to think about the Banyan tree this Father’s Day and where you fall on its spectrum. Are you the type of tree which stifles and stunts the growth of those under your care or in your charge? Do you limit these dependents success by dominating and controlling them, not allowing them to reach their full potential in their own talents, their own ambitions, and their own dreams?
Or are you the Banyan which protects those who look up to you for guidance? Providing them with the nutrients and knowledge of your fruits so that they may grow into strong, healthy individuals, eager to spread the seeds of love and a caring nature into the world around them.
Fathers, allow your family to be safe beneath ‘your Banyan shelter’. Allow enough light, air, space, and nutrients to shine through and give life, liberty, and space for them to shine according to their own gifts, strengths and talents. Let them think, decide and experience their own calling and teach them to develop their voice by listening to their opinions and dreams.
Have a happy father’s day.
Blog written by:
African Blessings Missions Director