Reconnecting with Ourselves, Each Other, and This Land
I come here to listen, to nestle in the curve of the roots in a soft hollow of pine needles, to lean my bones against the column of white pine, to turn off the voice in my head until I can hear the voices outside it: the shhhh of wind in needles, water trickling over rock, nuthatch tapping, chipmunks digging, beechnut falling, mosquito in my ear and something more—something that is not me, for which we have no language, the wordless being of others in which we are never alone. After the drumbeat of my mother’s heart, this was my first language. —–Robin Wall Kimmerer, from Learning the Grammar of Animacy
Today we honored the Winter Solstice at Earthseed by spending some intentional time listening: to ourselves, each other and this land. In a society that is so chock-full of noise, where we spend so much time in front of THIS screen, taking moments of pause, where we can actually listen carefully, become precious gifts,
We walked intentionally. We sat quietly on the forest floor. We listened. We reconnected with our breath. We heard each other clearer.
We remembered that when we cut through all of the clutter and chatter what is REALLY most important, is our ability to love ourselves and love each other. If we don’t get that right, then all the rest seems meaningless and empty. As we mark the end of another exhilaratingly beautiful and excruciatingly heartbreaking year, may we continue to grow our relationships stronger, rooted evermore deeply in the practice of love.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for the support, encouragement and inspiration you’ve offered along the way.
Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.
We are thankful to our Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she will continue to care for us, just as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send thanksgiving, love, and respect. Now our minds are one.
—The opening paragraphs of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, known more accurately in the Onondaga language as the Words That Come Before All Else. The actual wording of the Thanksgiving Address varies with the speaker. This text is the widely publicized version of John Stokes and Kanawahientun, 1993.
Today, many people across the United States of America gather with their loved ones to offer collective gratitude. This holiday has some heartbreaking history attached to it (to say the least) and we are currently living through some heartbreaking moments. Yet somehow, today we can choose to focus on the many gifts this life offers. In particular, the MANY gifts that we have received, and continue to receive the people who were indigenous to this land long before its European ‘discovery’. We are so thankful. (more…)
And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.
The land is the real teacher. All we need as students is mindfulness. Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.–-Robin Wall Kimmerer, from “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants”
Fields Full Daisy Fleabane
These tiny flowers refused to go unnoticed on Earthseed Land! They started arriving a few weeks ago, and now they’ve managed to fully inhabit significant swaths of land. Erigeron annuus is their formal name, but the children and I refer to them as ‘tiny daisies’. Once you take the time to notice them, you’ll begin to see them most everywhere: along roads, trails, in fields and even in areas full of waste.
Robin Wall Kimmerer writes, “Names are the way we humans build relationship, not only with each other but with the living world.” I struggle with feelings of awe and humility every time I sit to write this blog. How could I, not formally trained in anything plant-related have anything to say about the natural world? And yet, there is a deeper longing to reconnect that pushes me forward. I believe there are some other truths, not found in a university setting that nature bountifully reveals to us. (more…)
We are presented with opportunities to start anew many times in our life. On Earthseed Land this summer I’ve been reminded of this every time a dragonfly zooms across my path. Dragonflies (scientific name Anisoptera, suborder Odonata) are more than just another flying insect. They are magical creatures that experience their lives in two stages: The larval stage when they live inside of water (for up to two years!) and the stage we are most familiar with, occurring after they crawl out of the water, shed their exoskeleton, expand their wings and FLY!
I’ve been so inspired by the dragonflies this summer: their ability to begin again, their magnificent ability to see with their gigantic eyes, and their impressive flying skills. But mostly I’ve been taken by their sheer beauty. So much so, that as I launched a new chapter in my professional career I decided to name my consulting practice Libélula (dragonfly in Spanish) in their honor. In many parts of the world dragonflies symbolize change, often the kind of change that is connected to a growing understanding of the deeper meaning of life. This opportunity to start anew happens both at the individual and the collective level.
At Earthseed we get to remember this every time we gather as a group to celebrate milestones, observe shifts in the season, observe the cycles of the moon and every time we spend time on the land.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring. Thanks for dreaming.
2018 began under a blanket of beautiful snow. For some, this translated into disruptions to the normal flow of life. For others, it meant a welcomed moment of respite and wintry play. On Earthseed, the snow transformed the landscape into something so beautiful that it is almost impossible to capture in a photograph (yet we try). Once again we emulate nature’s cycle: slowly and in due time awakening towards a year of delightful work in service of our vision.
2017 offered us so many gifts. Some of these gifts came in the form of opportunities to grow stronger as individuals and as a collective. Other gifts: in the form of art as we got to experience the Parable of the Sower Opera, the creation of Toshi Reagon (who we had the honor of hosting on Earthseed Land last summer) and her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon. This was an important event for us because we share a source of inspiration for our work: the brilliant Octavia E. Butler.
Our name, Earthseed—is inspired by the decolonized mind and work of a woman who was well ahead of her time. The future that Ms. Butler depicts is a complex one: bleak circumstances from which there are so many beautiful lessons for us to take to heart: about what it means to truly be in community with one another, how much we need each other to survive, the resilience of the human spirit, and our ability to heed to the lessons that nature presents us time and time again. We see many parallels from Parable to the present we are living now. And in response to circumstances of such despair, we are affirmed in our commitment to plant goodness on this land. Believing fully that “Kindness eases change. Love quiets fear.” We have so many blessings to be grateful for, so many people invested in seeing this work flourish, and so many dreams yet to realize.
Thank you for all you have done/do/will do to support Earthseed!
As 2018 unfolds, I sometimes find myself waiting to breathe; it is as if, in holding my breath, I will be able to press pause and for a brief moment the whirlwind, the noise, the violence both acute and systemic will stop. But I cannot press pause and nothing stops.
And so I take a breath. And with this breath, the noise and pain rushes back in. It hurts to choose breath. I can hear the voices of my elders and my compañerxs reminding me that to breathe is a precious miracle, that the only way out is through, but still it hurts: to breathe into this grief, into this rage, into this struggle…
I spent yesterday with 3 kids, 3 and under. I watched them experience the warm winter sunshine and an open field by stripping off most of their clothing, running, mouths open, voices streaming, to tumble onto the newly turned soil.
My three year old said, “I’m a seed!,” as he plopped his beautiful brown body onto beautiful brown earth. I am a seed. I breathe this in deeply and I am “re-membered” by a joy that is more ancient and wise than my 38 years. I find the resolve to continue growing the world we want to see; planting seeds of collaboration, of justice, of belonging, of love.
There are so many ways to do this work, so many strategies, so many roles to play… What we know for sure that is that we all deserve to be whole and to belong; that we need each other. What we believe fully that is “Kindness eases change. Love quiets fear.”
We invite you to join us for a day of collective work on the land as we put blueberry bushes in the ground! Please join us if you can and thank you for all you have done/do/will do to support Earthseed!