Word Goal of the Week: patulous

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Pronounced: [pa-CHə-ləs]


  1. Open or expanded
  2. Spreading out from a center, as the branches of a tree

A Simple Reflection on the Word

An oak tree can offer shade and comfort due to the patulous branches that extend from its trunk. The Angel Oak is a massive example of such a tree. It is located on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina and is approximately 400-500 years old. It stands 66 feet high and produces 17,200 square feet of shade beneath its canopy. Since the branches themselves extend from the center (in a patulous fashion), it takes immense stability from the core to support them. Two main things have helped contribute to the fortitude and endurance of this remarkable tree the robust root system and the forest that surrounds it.  

The root system of the Angel Oak is extensive and enables the impressive tree to remain resilient. It also intertwines with the systems of nearby forests providing support, connection, and strength for them. In return, the forest offers the Angel Oak shelter from storms, adequate moisture and drainage, and filters harmful pollutants that could be detrimental to its survival. One cannot fully thrive without the other. There is a powerful lesson that can be learned here…

Community makes us stronger. By extending ourselves to others and intertwining our roots, experiences, and resources, we can flourish in ways we never thought possible.Click To Tweet

To be patulous is to be open. Often times, the one thing that causes us to miss an opportunity for a connection is the unwillingness to be vulnerable. The Angel Oak has survived a number of floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes over the years because it was not alone. Although being deeply connected to the forest makes it susceptible to danger, the tree has been able to recover and continue to grow due to the support that surrounds it.

Being in community with others who share our passions, challenge our ideas, and embrace our roots, can help to form a foundation that grounds us. Although it is possible to find success by flying solo, it is when we are willing to connect with others that we will truly thrive. Difficult times will come, but weathering a storm together is much more powerful than facing it alone.

Word Goal for today

Be intentionally patulous this week. Choose one person who you want to connect with and reach out to them. Invite them to dinner, coffee, or a face to face conversation to invest in them or to simply catch up. Building community often begins with one person who is strong enough to take the first step. 

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