by Steph Zabel
“I thought the earth remembered me, she took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds.”
This line from Mary Oliver’s beloved poem, “Sleeping in the Forest,” often runs through my mind. Especially when I leave behind my city environs and return to the embrace of the forest and green, wild places.
Some of us may be more drawn to the outdoors than others, but I believe that each of us has heard a call to return to nature at some point in our life. A return to nature can simply be a momentary remembrance, a moment of connection and acknowledgment. Even the most citified person, with feet always on concrete, can be stopped in their tracks by the pink glow of a sunset, the tremendous power of a thunderstorm, or the pure beauty of a newly opened flower.
Nature calls to us in many ways, in many languages and colors and scents and whispers. It is simply up to us to be aware of these communications.
For me, I most strongly hear how the earth speaks through the beauty of plants. I see the divinity of all life reflected in the body of plants. The flowers, leaves, seeds, and roots of these beings contain healing for our own bodies and spirits.
I see this in the way a flower blooms and then sets its seeds, in the changing colors of autumn leaves, in the waxing and waning rhythms of the seasons, in the abundance and diversity of life that meets us everywhere. The scent of a flower, the light through trees’ leaves, the feel of the grass underneath my feet and through my fingers, all return me to the Source of everything.
The earth will always remember us, and will endlessly call us back to her. We must simply listen. And then we will remember to the earth.
This post is one in a series of Earth Etudes for Elul from Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope.
Steph Zabel, MSc, is an herbalist and educator based in Somerville, MA. For over a decade she has combined her passions for natural medicine, community outreach, and education. She holds a Master’s degree in ethnobotany, and is a graduate of several herbal apprenticeships including a three-year training in clinical herbalism. Steph worked in the botanical collections of the Harvard University Herbaria and now focuses on teaching practical & inspiring herbal classes and offering dynamic wellness sessions. Steph is the founder of HERBSTALK, Boston’s vibrant community herbal conference, through which she creates accessible educational opportunities for all plant enthusiasts.