Every day we are inundated with information. Through words, images, conversations, screens, media, people, and life…it can be hard to keep track of what is most important in the deluge of noise and “news.” This year, the ministers at ERUUF are offering a series of classes to help all of us ground and center in the midst of all that life brings. In the first class of the series (Healing the Earth) I was moved by the engaged presence of participants, both online and in person, who embraced the primary invitation of the class—to pause, slow down, and listen.
Based on the book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer, we explored our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world, our sense of interconnectedness with the Earth, and what it may take to write a new future for a sustainable world for all. Dr Kimmerer offers that the awakening of ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the Earth and learn to give our own gifts in return.
Action on behalf of life transforms. Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved, and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals 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 into a sacred bond.
The book is full of stories that encourage us to pay attention to how we are in relationship with one another, the Earth, and the elements of nature. Following the lead of the book, the class focused on listening to one another share stories of our own experience of the natural world. Each week, there was a homework assignment, that we then shared in the next class.