Giving Freely

Lilies draw in oxygen down their long stems into the depths of the water through a network of plants that share space, moving oxygen from young new plants through to older, tattered lilies. This cycle of breath from one to the next, feeding all along the way, is perhaps one way to think of how we may ourselves feed life, each other, and our many environs. Picture yourself rooted down into darkness and rich Earth, part of a rhizomatous system of connection to each other. Breathe in deeply, through your belly, pulling that life giving energy deep into, then through yourself, down through the Earth, where life is fed into the soils, and through that rhizome fed also to every other life. Allow that energy to nurture you and then travel through that system where it is most needed. Give freely of what feeds you, that all may be fed.

Consider, too, the way that your rhizome, that branching rootedness of and communication between lives, connects to your dead, your many ancestors. Feel that connection, and allow your breath, your drawing in of nurturance, to be released into your lineages, back and back and back, offering healing and wholeness to those who need it, feeding the life from which your life arose. Give freely of what feeds you, that all may be fed.

There are so many, many ways we enrich and are enriched in turn through our participation in the cycles and communions of living and of dying. We are gifted such riches, and give of ourselves in return, simply by breathing in the air, drinking the waters, giving voice to what fills us. It is but a moment’s thought to extend a hand in gratitude, in kindness to another; perhaps a little bit harder sometimes to do so genuinely to ourselves. Giving freely means accepting freely, too, as we give to others the same space to share as we have taken for ourselves. Give freely of what feeds us, that all may be fed.

In my heart it is a murmur now, gently rising and falling as the leaves of the lilies that inspired it do in the edges of the waters in which they rest. There is a gladness in it, and a sorrow, too, just as there is in abundance and in life. I feel it take root in me like hope does, deep and branching, and I offer it as prayer and as gift. For I must also give freely of what feeds me, that all may be fed.

I want to give my deep thanks to Robin Wall Kimmerer, of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and botanist, for the beauty and wisdom and feeding of my own soul and life and roots. This thought I share here was inspired by The Consolation of Water Lillies in her gorgeous book Braiding Sweetgrass. I encourage you all to read this book, or listen to the Audible version, which she narrates herself. And I thank her for her inspiration and her teaching.

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