Robin Wall Kimmerer’s remarkable books of essays, Braiding Sweetgrass has been a balm and buoyancy aid over this last year. Her words, rooted in her deep knowledge of plants and grounded in her own wisdom tradition of her people- she is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation- are meditations on reciprocity, gifting, stewardship of the earth, and true love. Her words carry both weight and wonder. Her message is clear: it is time we offer our gifts, in our fullness and in our gratitude, in service to Mother Earth.
The last lines of her epilogue in the collection have been my constant companion. I read them when doubt and fear start to erode my courage, or when I am beginning to question why I do what I do. They are words I share at the end of each writing workshop I host, and they are words which come with an invitation: to create, with the power of this potent time with us, in return for the privilege of breath: These are those words. My wish is that they may become your companion too.
‘The moral covenant of reciprocity calls us to honour our responsibility for all we have been given, for all that we have taken. It’s our turn, now long overdue. Let us hold a giveaway for Mother Earth, spread our blankets our for her and pile them high with gifts of our own making. Imagine the books, the paintings, the poems, the clever machines, the compassionate acts, the transcendent ideas, the perfect tools. The fierce defence of all that has been given. Gifts of mind, hands, heart, voice and vision all offered up on behalf of the earth. Whatever our gift, we are called to give it and to dance for the renewal of the world.
In return for the privilege of breath.