I’m reading the book “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer and loving every page. It is a beautiful collection of stories that weave scientific knowledge in botany with First Nations teachings.
Ms. Kimmerer writes so eloquently about the Indigenous caretakers of this land. How they have done so with the awareness, understanding and respect that they are doing it on behalf of their ancestors who came before them as well as all those who will come after, who they will never meet but for whom they accept the responsibility of ensuring sustainable home.
As I read her describing such strong bonds to people she has never known who lived before and will come after her, I was deeply impacted. I am an adoptee. When I was a few months old, I was put up for adoption. Over time I was moved from foster home to foster home. Finally, I was placed in my adoptive home when I was two. Being an adoptee, for me, held some pretty consistent, somewhat painful reminders. I was disconnected from my family around me.
I didn’t look like anyone, even distant relatives. At reunions or when anyone would look at pictures of me with my family, there were never comments like ‘she has her mom’s eyes’ or ‘she has the same sense of humour as her dad’ that were so common for everyone else. I didn’t have anyone’s anything. I was different. Always. I’m positive no one did it out of hostility of any kind or to hurt me in any was but I was acutely aware and felt slightly alone every time it happened.
Which is why the description of such strong connections to ancestors who she has never met struck home with me so profoundly.
The land knows you, even when you are lostBraiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
Robin Wall Kimmerer
For the first time in my life, I feel I too can be connected to “ancestors”. They may not be my ancestors but I feel now that I’ve adopted them, if only spiritually. I don’t have to know their name, where they grew up, who they married. It doesn’t matter the children they had or who they looked like. I feel I have an obligation to read, learn and do my best to live their teachings. The ancestors who were here took care of this land I now call home long before I even thought of setting foot here. I may not be tied to them by blood but I am sure they wanted to pass along the beauty of this place to anyone who would follow in the hopes that they would do the same. And that is my plan, for whomever comes after me.
I have a lot to learn.