Week Two: The Wilderness Loves Us
“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street to a sacred bond”
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
In March there are days where the wind carries the smell of spring. You can smell the soil. The composting leaves. The wet cedar.
These smells have me opening up my gardening books and ordering seeds that will soon be planted. I feel such joy and excitement pouring over my plans and choosing seed varieties. Soon. Soon seedlings will be growing in my window. Soon the land will be soft enough for planting peas. Soon asparagus will be here. Soon.
Those first tastes of spring are like returning.
I wonder if you have a special place where you collect food? Is there a special farm or garden in your life? Do you have a favourite place to pick berries, or a special orchard you pick at? Maybe you love to forage for fiddle heads. Perhaps you have found yourself watching sap drip from maple trees on a warm winter day.
I invite you to close your eyes and remember that place. Let yourself sink into those memories while you imagine yourself there.
Tamara and I have been reading the book Braiding Sweetgrass. It is written by Robin Wall Kimmerer, who is a botanist from the Potawatomi first Nation. Over the next weeks we will share some of the writing from the book along with our reflections. While harvesting in her own garden, Kimmerer shares:
“Maybe it was the smell of ripe tomatoes, or the oriole singing, or that certain slant of light on a yellow afternoon and the beans hanging thick around me. It just came to me in a wash of happiness that made me laugh out loud, starling the chickadees who were picking at the sunflowers, raining black and white hulls on the ground. I knew it with a certainty as warm and clear as the September sunshine. The land loves us back. She loves us with beans and tomatoes, with roasting ears and blackberries and birdsongs. By a shower of gifts and a heavy rain of lessons. She provides for us and teaches us to provide for ourselves. That’s what good mothers do.
I looked around and could feel her delight in giving us these beautiful raspberries, squash, basil, potatoes, asparagus, lettuce, kale and beets, broccoli, peppers, brussel sprouts, carrots, dill, onions, leeks, spinach. It reminded me of my little girls’ answer to “How much do I love you?” “Thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis much,” with arms stretched wide, they replied. (122)
“I sat once in a graduate writing workshop on relationships to the land. The students all demonstrated a deep respect and affection for nature. They said that nature was the place where they experienced the greatest sense of belonging and well-being. They professed without reservation that they loved the earth. And then I asked them, “Do you think that the earth loves you back?” No one was willing to answer that…
So I made it hypothetical and asked, “what do you suppose would happen if people believed this crazy notion that the earth loved them back?” The floodgates opened. They all wanted to talk at once…
Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street to a sacred bond” (124-125)
While we might easily express feeling a deep love, connection, and appreciation for the land, Kimmerer wonders – can feel the land loving us back?
Is there a time in your life when you have felt held, or loved, by the earth?
Last week we considered that Jesus was not alone in the Wilderness, but was in communion with the land and all that lived on it. This week we consider the ways in which those lands intentionally loved and held Jesus through that time, just as we are held and loved by the earth.
In the mountains? By a riverside? While walking through a forest? While laying in a grassy field? Where do you feel the land saying “i love you thiiiiiiiiissss” much?
Practices for the Week:
- As you walk about places this week, take notice of the joys and gifts you experience while being outside.
- Wonder about the love that is being expressed to you in those moments.
- Remember times that you have felt particularly loved or held by the earth. Take some time to sit with those memories.
- Imagine the ways in which Jesus would have been held by the earth while in the wilderness.
- Join Jesus in the wilderness. How might you experience being held and loved by the land in this wilderness place?