I sit in my camp chair beside an arrowleaf balsamroot plant. This vibrant harbinger of spring, once so full of green and sunny yellow, is now dry, the same dusty beige as the soil. It’s life, lived boldly, is ending. The dried leaves and stems rustle in the breeze – a death rattle of sorts.
I look around me and see the beginnings of the end. Leaves begin to glow with red and orange. Pinecones clutter the ground beneath towering trees. Grasses faded to the same beige as the balsamroot. The season of fall is definitely in the air and the world around us prepares for a long winter’s nap. What looks like death and dying is only temporary, though. Come spring green will come out to play and will paint the world in multi-toned brilliance.
I look again at the balsamroot plant, knowing that just beneath the surface of the dry, dusty ground is a root system that is working hard to capture the last bits of sunshine and water needed to sustain this plant through the winter. Our Wild Church circle gathers and several share stories of nearby trees growing in the midst of a solid rock wall, somehow sustained by invisible roots that have found a way to sustain life, because that is what roots do. Sustain life.
In this season of death and decay much work is being done to sustain life. The leaves that will soon disappear, blown away by the next big windstorm, are sending as much energy as they can down to the roots that never see that sun. Moisture, nutrients, all that is needed for life to emerge again is being stored in the root cellar.
I lean back in my chair and wonder. I wonder in awe at the creative genius that exists in these plants, spun into existence by a cosmic wisdom that I have come to call Great Mystery. Others call it by many different names: Creator, God, Allah, Holy One.
I wonder about my own roots – about that which might sustain life in me through the changing seasons of life. My roots have been fed and watered in so many ways: by family, friends, school, circumstances – all constantly changing like the seasons. I have lived through seasons of drought, abundance, storms, grief, joy – all the different circumstances life offers us. The roots that hold and sustain me are my faith. My roots are grounded in the Christian story. There are many faiths, many stories, all holding truth and wisdom and all able to sustain life. That’s why I choose the name Great Mystery because truly not one of us knows that our story is the ONLY story.
I wonder about my roots. In this ever-shifting world, will these roots be enough to sustain me? Am I drawing in enough light and water and nutrition to continue moving through the yearly cycles of living and dying and living again? I sit in my chair, feet firmly planted on the ground, take a deep breath of oxygen-rich air, made so by the exhalations of the trees around me, feel the warm sunshine on my shoulders. Peace settles into my being and I know. I, too, am drawing deeply of the holiness that surrounds me, and my roots are gathering up all that is needed to sustain me. I have touched and have been touched by Mystery this day, and it is enough. I sit in my chair and breathe a prayer of gratitude.
Before our circle disbands we offer gratitude: to the land that has held us, to the more than human beings that have hosted us, to one another for the time of community and to the Source of all, the Great Mystery. We pour out on the ground a bit of corn meal, the same golden colour of spring’s blooming balsamroot. I look around the circle and offer a silent prayer that those sitting with me will be rooted deeply in holiness, solidly grounded in Great Mystery.
Thanks for joining my circle today. I am grateful for your presence as well.
Rev LeAnn Blackert works with Michele Walker, Lesly Comrie and Linda Clark in ministry with Wild Church in Kamloops, Sorrento and the Okanagan. She considers herself a seeker in her faith journey and wanders the wild world looking for the Great Mystery and the “wild Christ.” July happens to be her favourite month of the year. To find out more, visit wildchurchbc.org and be in touch!