I belong to this land: Earth loves me and I love Earth back.
Getting to the Heart of the Lesson
Creation stories – as varied and unique as each one is – always begin with the elements and nature. Our spiritual practices are continually inviting us to re-member ourselves to the teachings of Earth and the elements, to the rhythm of day and night, and to the wisdom of each season in its cycle. Deep Time shows us we come from the stars, and we have evolved on Earth. We belong to the land. This does not need to be a limitation. In fact, when we can more fully embrace our sense of belonging, we can rest and give more expressively in this life.
The words of Robin Wall Kimmerer,
Though the Earth provides us with all that we need, we have created a consumption-driven economy that asks, “What more can we take from the Earth?” and almost never “What does the Earth ask of us in return?” The premise of Earth asking something of me—of me!— makes my heart swell. I celebrate the implicit recognition of the Earth’s animacy, that the living planet has the capacity to ask something of us and that we have the capacity to respond. We are not passive recipients of her gifts, but active participants in her well-being. We are honored by the request. It lets us know that we belong.
In this lesson we will consider what it means to belong to the land.
Some reading and a 10-20 min exercise (more if you have time and with to take it) so you are able to experience the teachings offered through this lesson.
When was the last time you were dusting a surface in your home and you thought, “This dust has traveled a long way to be here; does it have a story for me?” Or maybe there was a time when you hesitated before swatting the fly who was buzzing loudly at your window? Have you ever swept around the spider’s web, so as to not destroy a part of the larger story of which we are a part?
These might be some less obvious ways to remember we belong to this land. In her words above, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer says we are not passive recipients but rather active participants in Earth’s well being. In what ways is this true for you? If you are not immediately aware, take some time to reflect: how do you make Earth healthier, happier by the ways you live your life and care for the world (animate and inanimate) around you?
This week, make a note of the ways you help Life…
- Helping Life feel less burdened could include pruning some trees, raking some leaves, or grooming a pet.
- Helping Life feel encouraged could include watering your houseplants or singing to your vegetable garden.
- Helping Life feel valued could include installing rainwater collection barrels or solar panels on your home.
- Helping Life feel loved could include walking through your neighborhood and complimenting all the beauty you see, or filling your birdfeeder.
However you experiment with belonging to the land and fully embracing the reciprocal relationship we share with Earth, be sure you spend a little time meditating or journaling about these questions:
What, about this Earth, do you love? In what routine activities do you feel a sacred reciprocity – giving and receiving together? In what ways can you continue to feed and deepen this love?
Read through the lesson before your time with the children.
Decide which Activity Exploration will work best for your class (There are usually two options; choose one). Just below the heading, “Children’s Lesson and Story” you will find the preparations checklist for this lesson so you can collect any needed materials or make arrangements to support your selected activity.
Sacred Text Quotes
Christian Scriptures. Luke 12:48 (NRSV)
From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Christian Scriptures. Matthew 5:5 (NRSV)
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Hebrew Scriptures. Genesis 2:15 (NRSV)
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
Hebrew Scriptures. Leviticus 25:23-24 (NRSV):
The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.
Islam. Qur’an 31:20
Do you not see that God has subjected to your use all things in the heavens and on earth, and has made His bounties flow to you in exceeding measure, both seen and unseen?
Indigenous identity and language are inseparable from land. Land is the residence of our more-than- human relatives, the dust of our ancestors, the holder of seeds, the makers of rain, our teacher. Land is not capital to which we have property rights; rather it is the place for which we have moral responsibility in reciprocity for its gift of life. Here is the question we must at last confront: Is land merely a source of belongings, or is it the source of our most profound sense of belonging? We can choose. ― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
The land knows you, even when you are lost. ― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
When we talk about land, land is part of who we are. It’s a mixture of our blood, our past, our current, and our future. We carry our ancestors in us, and they’re around us. As you all do. ― Mary Lyons, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. ―Aldo Leopold
Be sure to click here to download the Teaching Introduction and Instructions.