“A gift from the earth comes to you through no action of your own, free, having moved toward you without your beckoning. It is not a reward; you cannot earn it, or call it to you, or even deserve it. And yet it appears. Your only role is to be open-eyed and present.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer
My childhood was sprinkled with gifts from the earth.
My family was fairly inclined to the outdoors, especially when it came to skiing and horseback riding. The most memorable “wild” places of my childhood include the towering, rugged Utah mountains, and the humble, grass-covered river flats across the road from our country homestead.
I loved wild places, and I recognized them as sacred and meaningful at a very young age. I would seek refuge nestled in a shaded bush, or lay vulnerably at the river’s edge, basking in the sun. I would gallop my horse through an open field, feeling the exhilarating breeze upon my face and whipping through my hair.
There was freedom in wild places – no judgment, no expectations, no demands.
As I mentioned, I recognized these spaces as special. I knew I was fortunate to have access to these places, and I visited them as much as I could.
Did I see them as a gift? Probably not. I just sort of accepted them as there and accessible. I was young. I was innocent. I accepted nature for who she was, and never really put any thought into how much she gives to me, to humanity, and to all of life.
But the more gifts I receive from the earth – a glimpse of a fox on the trail, wild grown mushrooms for nibbling, or a beautiful set of surfing waves – the more I notice the blessings and am thankful for the gifts. Gifts from the earth establish a certain relationship, an obligation of sorts, to give, to receive, and to reciprocate.
The currency of a gift economy is, at its root, reciprocity. The more one receives from the earth, the larger the “bundle of responsibility” grows.
Bask in the joys of nature my friends – receive a sunny day, or a rainy day for that matter, and send out a prayer of gratitude. But remember to give back when you can – try consuming less, for one, or grow a wild garden, free of pesticides. Consider your land to be a space where your responsibility to the world can be enacted. The land belongs to itself; it was a gift that you are fortunate to own.
For now, we will continue our nomadic existence, where traveling to the “wild” consumes us. We want to play. We want to love. We want to get to know.
And we want to give.