Words mean a lot to me. Years ago I had a realization that what I say and how I say it has a significant impact on life; on my own life and the lives of people around me. As I have raised children I have become even more convinced that what we say has the power to build up and cut down. The power to breathe life and inspire. The power to crush spirits and the power to give hope.
In 2021 I took on the role of Clinical Director at Amy Wine Counseling Center. It has been a gift to run the center and manage the incredible staff. In 2022 Amy and I began to seriously consider the idea of her stepping away and me purchasing the counseling center. One of the first things to dawn on me was that once Amy left, I could not continue with the name Amy Wine Counseling Center.
As someone who feels strongly about the meaning behind things and the significance of words, naming the counseling center was a challenge. How would I accurately convey the challenge and pain and beauty and freedom that exists in the counseling room? While I myself am a follower of Christ, one of the things I love about the counseling center is that the staff and clients are diverse in beliefs and values. So while ideas that come from Scripture are appealing to me, I really wanted a name that represented the experience of any person who walks through our doors.
I hired a freelance consultant who names businesses to generate ideas. I poured out all my thoughts and feelings in the questionnaire in hopes that this person would be able to take it all and come up with just the right thing. When that didn’t work, I took to keeping a note in my phone with ideas. As I would hear phrases that appealed to me or inspired me, I would write them down. I brainstormed with my husband and was constantly looking around for words, things, or ideas that felt right.
There’s a worship song that my husband and I both loved when it came out several years ago. It was underrated but the lyrics have a depth in meaning that has impacted us both. The first lines say:
Like the frost on a rose
Winter comes for us all
Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I've been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia
We tossed around some ideas from the song, added it to our ever growing list, and moved on.
As we continued with the process towards purchasing, it became even more dire that we had a name. It was time to start corporate documents and in order to register the company and the name, I had to first actually have a name.
One day my husband said it again. Sequoia. This time it made us pause. He started to get excited about the idea. I still wasn’t convinced though. That evening I started researching the Sequoia tree. At that point the extent of my knowledge was basically that Sequoia trees are really big. As I read more and learned more, it began to become clear that this was our name.
The Sequoia tree starts with a seed that can fit in the palm of our hand. The largest tree on earth is generated from a tiny seed, but what was even more impactful to me is what these massive trees have to endure to make it become what it is supposed to be.
When the National Park Service took over the care of King's Canyon Park in the 1800s, they worked hard to prevent forest fires. It was more than 100 years before they discovered they were actually working against the sequoia, because the sequoia needs fire for the cone to open and the seeds to germinate. The trunk of the sequoia is specifically built to not be destroyed by fire, but even beyond that they actually need the fires in order to develop and thrive.
After enduring the fire for the seed to be ready, in order for a Sequoia seed to become a tree the seed must first be buried under a blanket of snow. Once the seed is put down in the harshest of weather, it begins to crack apart in order to grow.
It’s hard enough to fathom that these enormous trees came from a tiny seed. It’s even more difficult to comprehend that in order to grow, these seeds can not only withstand, but actually require, what to us seems like unbearable conditions.
Sequoias never stop growing. The sequoia only stops growing when it dies. Unlike other plant and animal species which stop growing once they get to maturity, even after thousands of years, the sequoia still grows. In its lifetime, it grows in all aspects including height, width and hardiness.
The more I learned, the more I became overwhelmed with the symbolism of the sequoia. And the more all of my hopes for the impact of the counseling center can be summed up in the idea of moving from seed to sequoia.
That the tiniest seed has the potential to grow beyond what we think possible.
That what feels like it might destroy us will actually become our strength.
That we would never stop growing.
That we would have what we need to endure, but even beyond that to flourish.
That we would be rooted in a way that helps us survive the storms.
That every difficulty in relationships, every hard circumstance, every struggle with mental health, every loss - none of it would be wasted.
That every seed planted in the harshest of moments will produce something great.
“Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow.
Perhaps it all will.”