Musings on a Lammas Evening

Sweet summer. Almost every day this season, in the late afternoon when the shadows lengthen, the sun is strong, and the sunflowers face west . . . almost every day at this time I put down the colored pencils and the work-in-progress, and I go out to the herb garden. I nestle down in the dirt right next to Rosemary and Goldenrod and Sage and Lemon Verbena and Sweetgrass and Oregano and Mint and Comfrey and Motherwort and Lavender and Echinacea and Poppy and Thyme, and my newest resident, the sweet and potent Tulsi. I run my hands over their leaves until my hands are stained with their scents and my spirit is intoxicated by the fragrance. I don’t weed, I don’t water, I don’t harvest. I just sit with them, and admire them, and listen to them. I am restored, and my hope is that the gift and the offering of the attention I give them is restorative to them as well.

I have been learning deep lessons this year about mutuality and reciprocity in human relationships, and in my relationships with the more-than-humans as well, those great and small beings of the natural world. I have been learning about it in conversation with my mentors and in dialogue with my herbcrafting friends. I have been learning about it in the pages of Braiding Sweetgrass.

It’s not a new lesson, for haven’t we been singing “the earth is our mother, she will take care of us; we must take care of her” for decades now? Yet every turn on the spiral takes us ever deeper into the mysteries.

I have spent this Lammas day working — getting very focused and clear about the content for the retreat I will host in September, weaving threads together with my guest teacher and astounded as always at the synergy that happens when we work together, each standing in her own divine connection to Source. I am so moved when I think about this upcoming retreat, and I am deeply grateful for our return to our heart home of Aldermarsh.

I worked a good part of this Lammas day at the drawing table. This new body of work is nearly complete — 58 down, 20 to go. This has been a summer of saying “no” to opportunities and activities that would take me away from getting this project done. It’s been hard and satisfying at the same time.

But it’s Lammas, the festival of the first fruits of the harvest. And so I come out to the garden to pause, to listen and observe, and to come into relationship once again with the Green Ones and the Winged Ones. I give them the gift of my attention and they give me the gift of their beauty.

I have no freshly baked loaf of bread to lay on the altar, no first-cut sheaf of grain. The first fruits of my harvest this year are the work of my mind and heart and hands, and these beloved, fragrant Green Ones growing so beautifully outside my door.

And so I pour out an offering of sweet water into the garden, that will nourish and sustain the Ones who live there, and I offer them (as always) my heart.

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