Finding Roots

Tomorrow is Indigenous People’s Day.  There is so much we could reflect on with that topic.  For the moment, let us honor those who are indigenous to this place.  

Book recommendation: Braiding Sweetgrass.  It’s a book of essays, so you don’t have to read it in one sitting and has a wide range of accessibility.  Robin Kimmerer is a scientist (botany) and a Native American.  It’s about finding place and connecting to nature.  She talks about some of the things we have to overcome, but she does it in a way that is open and welcoming, thoughtful, and despite the topic(s), it’s not full of doom and gloom.  

She talks a lot about give and take.  Reciprocity and love.  Familiar themes.  There’s your book teaser for the week.  

Indigenousness.  Finding place in the world.  Setting down roots.  As we’re spending more time at home, and branching out and hunkering down, we’re thinking more about roots and what that means.  

Here’s a few questions that are based on an interesting assignment on “home” and “place” and “belonging”.  Who is indigenous to the land you call home? 

Where are you indigenous to?  Can you go centuries back? Where would you have lived when your people were more tribal, not just where did they live before they got on the ship that brought us here?  Where did your ancestors live during, say, the Roman Occupation of Europe?  Jesus’s time frame and before.  

Where would your people have lived during the time of Jesus?  That also brings up, who would your people have been worshipping during the time of Jesus? 

Roots.  Home.  Lands.  People.  

There’s a quote, I’m pretty sure it’s from Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass, that says when we stepped off the boats onto America, we kept one foot on the land we left behind.  The theory on this is that this straddling place keeps us from fully coming “home”.  We continue to feel uprooted and unsettled.  Not fully here, but no longer there.  Displaced.  

I remember moving back to New England and how deep the ties seemed.  I remember the joke that you’re not actually local until you’ve lived here for at least fifty years.  I was lucky to be grandfathered in to place.  

Roots.  Home.  Land.  Tribe.  

In many ways this is The Human Story.  Where do we belong?  What land belongs to us (or what land do we belong to)?  Who are our people?  What is our place?  These are the big questions.  Universal.  

You can see it all over the Old Testament…the Hebrew Scriptures.  Exodus.  Exile.  All the way back to Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden.  Losing place and searching for place, roots, home.  Safety.  

We’re still very much seeking safety. 

In many ways, we’re feeling more disconnected and uprooted than ever.  Do you know your own indigenous roots?  Have you thought about it?  Where are your roots?  And are your roots your roots?  Do they feel like home and comfort and safe?

Roots.  Universal.  Finding place is universal.  Finding home.  Maybe especially as Americans, being such a young nation.  Think about it, at what point are we just American?  I remember being asked where I was from as a kid and to be stubborn, and feeling very mutt-like, I would say: American.  And people would say: No, really, where are you from?  America.  

When are we American vs. Irish American, Italian American, Native American, African American, Mutt American…?  And is it good to become only American?  I certainly don’t have that answer…

It seems very true that we have one foot here in America and one, or many, foot(feet) somewhere else.  

No wonder, perhaps, that we feel so uprooted.  We’re struggling to find “place” in the world. Physical place and our place.  Maybe roots are important.  Are we rooted?  

Maybe that’s a root (yes, pun intended) part of a bigger problem.  When we don’t feel part of a place, we don’t have the connection that makes us desire to protect it or the people on it.  We may feel a big national pride, but do we protect the small places that make up the big?  Do we make our communities better (or run away to a better place instead)?  Do we take care of our land and place?  I think we’re very lucky where we live.  We do feel more rooted and connected.  We do do good things for our community and land.  

Indigenous.  The story is to get home.  Back to the Garden.  What if the Garden is right here?  Here in this place?  And here in our hearts?  Stories have power. Maybe we need to get out of the story that we have some place to get to and stay right here.  

Religion.  Faith.  I think that is also a part of our roots and our place.  They create places of comfort and connection.  Places of people.  You know, even if you don’t go to church, that there is worship happening.  That’s comforting.  Rooting.  Yes, I am one of the first to say you don’t need a church to worship, and yet…

I DO believe that church buildings ARE important.  There’s something deeply sad and tragic when a church building closes or is destroyed.  When they are gone…that deeply saddens me. It’s not just place, but home and roots.  Heritage and history.  

And faith.  Faith even without a building.  Some of you know of my friend Owen.  He’s a yoga teacher and a minister.  When I met him that combination surprised me.  Now, it makes sense.  

I took a class that he and another Teacher offered. It was yoga, but offered with Christian scripture and theory.  I sat in the class and did a lot of listening. What I took away from that class was how uprooted people are.  Many had found yoga (and other disciplines) in their seeking to get back to spirituality, when for whatever their reasons they had lost faith in Christianity.  

But something was missing.  These people were quietly trying to get back to their roots.  And, for many of them, that root was in Christ.  They loved the spiritual disciplines of yoga, but it wasn’t fully “home”.  And yet, they no longer felt fully home in the church.  There was something magical about watching the relief, as if coming home, when they learned that they could bring Christianity back into their lives.  That they weren’t alone.  That they could come back to their roots.  It was powerful to watch.  

People are seeking a place to call home.  People are seeking their roots.  Where are you seeking?  Where are you indigenous to?  Where are your roots? 

Maybe it’s in Faith.  Maybe it’s in place.  Maybe it’s in community.  Maybe it’s all of these things and more.  

I feel blessed that we are rooted in place, history, community, land, and faith together.  We may feel and express in different ways, and yet still these ties that bind connect us and keep up safe.  Rooted in home with one another.  

Blessings and Love.  May we remember all that we have to be grateful for.  May we remember where we call home and may we allow the roots to deepen so that we may be protected and protect.  Reciprocity of place.  

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