Braiding Sweetgrass

Our Josephy Center book group is reading Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, by indigenous writer and professor of botany Robin Wall Kimmerer.  We’ll have a discussion of the book on Monday night, March 9, at 7:00 p.m., at the Josephy Center, but anyone is invited to listen in—and at least comment by email— https://josephy.org/book-group/.

I came to the book reluctantly. It’s about plants and ponds, and not, at first blush, about the human dramas that always grab my attention. Friends persuaded me and voted when given a chance that this would be our next book. I started slowly, and am still just past the half-way mark. And I love it!

If there’s a lesson in those pages that my human-focused mind can get around, it is that the indigenous way of looking at the earth and its living and un-living occupants—and even at the heavens that surround us—is to see it all as “gift.” This is radically opposed to the modern view of a world of commodities, where the pieces are all interrelated yes, but by rules of economics and physics. There might be awe in the stars, or in the neatly fitted chain of materials and processes that put a car or computer together in China so that I can drive it or Google it in Joseph, Oregon. But where are thankfulness and grace and reciprocity?

I don’t know where I go from here. I’ll finish the book, and listen to others tomorrow night. And to you blog readers and your thoughts on this gift of a book.

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