_Braiding Sweetgrass_. By Robin Wall Kimmerer. copyright 2013
Sitting with this book, sipping hot cocoa, and watching the land sleep and slowly, ever so slowly, begin to awaken was the absolute best way to begin 2021. This is a favorite book and I have reread certain sections of it many times over the past years. This year, my approach was different. I sat and soaked in her words, her thoughts, and her teachings . . . I sat with notebook (see turtles above?) and pen. I sat attentively watching for the word ‘ceremony.’ I approached it as I do Lectio Divina — and it made such an impact.
There aren’t going to be lists and lists of quotes from the book. You should probably own a copy and if you don’t, I cannot recommend reading this book enough. The audiobook is perfection since she reads it herself and you get to hear bits of Potawatomi language.
Here, in a nutshell, are the principles of ceremony from an Indigenous perspective:
- Ceremonies are the way we remember to remember
- Ceremonies draw a circle around our family
- Ceremonies have the power to focus attention
- That, I think, is the power of ceremony: it marries the mundane to the sacred. The water turns to wine, the coffee to a prayer. The material and the spiritual mingle like grounds mingled with the humus, transformed like steam rising from a mug into the morning mists.
- Rooted in gratitude and reciprocity
- To have agency in the world, ceremonies should be reciprocal creations, organic in nature . . . They should not be cultural appropriations from Native peoples.
- To honor the cycles of the seasons
- Include human and the more than human world.
- Honor the land and our connection to it.
- A second time she says: ceremonies are the way we remember to remember
My takeaways from this are nature based, gratitude based, family/community based ceremonies are the most important. I don’t need to keep a running list of saints’ days in my head, I just need to be observant of the Earth and all her rhythms. Those are worth remembering, those are worth gratitude, and those will knit our family/community together around this place.