Roots and Evil

For five years we have endured the bumps in our driveway caused by, what we thought, were pine tree roots growing beneath the asphalt. One bump in particular was “admired” by neighbors and us as we watched it expand and begin to open at its top. It had expanded so much that, if I was not careful when driving in, my van’s frame would rub against it. However, yesterday the old driveway was removed by a skilled man using a Bobcat, and I eagerly asked him about what I suspected was a massive knot of pine tree roots heaving the asphalt. He said, “I didn’t have a bucket’s worth of roots. I’ve seen that before,” he continued, “when some little roots cause a lot of pressure in clay dirt where water collects. It’s the mix of water and clay that pushes up caused by a small root growing. Ain’t that something. Not even a bucket’s worth.”

Since that conversation with the Bobcat operator, I’ve been thinking about all the years my wife and I had adjusted to the bumps in our driveway, and how we even began referring to them as our speed bumps. We warned visitors about them because they were so large, and when we contracted for the new driveway, we hoped that the excavation did not kill any of our beloved pine trees by removing their roots. Yesterday’s conversation with the Bobcat operator calmed that worry, but the root’s reminded me of what I had known but forgotten.

The roots are a metaphor for evil. While the ones beneath the heaved-up driveway were smaller than anticipated, they had pressured the wet clay which in turn pushed against the asphalt, causing our speed bumps. They, like evil, had done their work: Slow and steady growth, often hidden from view, but persistently working to cause upheaval and damage in our lives.

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