Rooted in earth

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For the past few years, I have been immersed in the folklore and history, traditions and myths of my land in a way I had never expected. This is not the country of governments and politics, nor the land of business and traffic jams or socio-economic divides. This is the deep well of life accessible to all.

I have seen and shared the growth of bluebells under the trees, the chalk cut figures spanning millennia, the hillsides and skies, the wildflowers, valleys and groves. I have danced the serpentine dance and walked barefoot where legends tell a dragon was slain. I have gazed upon living history in brick and stone, traced the human story in the earth and told tales of long ago.

The land itself has changed me, I think, or else awoken me to a deeper vision of the world that has, like the buried treasure of some ancient site, lain hidden from my sight. I do not think it is possible to work with the stories, currents and history of the land and remain oblivious to the rich tapestry of life.

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I have shared knowledge and received it, glimpsed understanding, heard tell of far off landscapes and peoples, stories other than my own, lives I will never know. And yet, they are the same. The details may differ, the names and the skein of history in which they are bound may change. There are redwoods instead of ash, deserts instead of moorlands, yet the human story within the landscape shares a thread that is lost in the same long ago and it bears a common theme.

Standing in the ancient holy places, it is these very differences that bring home the commonality of our heritage as human beings. They are but details seen through the vast lens of time. The emotions I feel are echoed, through the ages and across all the lands, by my ancestors and reflect a future yet to unfold over lifetimes yet unborn.

The same imperatives drive us, though we hunt now in supermarkets and trawl the internet for knowledge instead of parchment scrolls. The same human frailties and desires shape our lives. The same strength and courage in face of life’s challenges define who we become. The same reverence for the divine, however felt and conceived, carved both the great hill figures, carried the sarsens and built the churches and temples of our own times.

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To take time to seek the wildflowers in the hedgerows, to watch the snow lay heavy on the bough, or to watch a hawk in flight and a sparrow welcoming the morning, is to step outside of time for a moment, the attention turned away from the hustle and bustle of the mundane. To stand within the landscape and feel the ancient life both of the earth and her people is to see this great vista of history spread like a patchwork quilt at your feet. Each square a different pattern or design, the colours and fabrics changing and contrasting with each other, yet together forming a thing of wholeness and beauty.

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Watching the sunset tonight from a village garden, the urban traffic noise a distant hum, I wondered how many sunsets have been watched alone in joy or grief, or shared in laughter or silence by the millions of other eyes that have turned to that golden glow. How many more will watch as it sinks below the horizon, bathing the earth in a last flare of light?

Just sit for a moment, close your eyes. Beneath your feet, beneath the concrete, the wood, the tiles or the grass lies the same earth upon which I stand, upon which we all stand. It is there, ever-present. Evolving and ageing, changing just as we, but older and slower, deeper and richer, its surface buzzing with the same life that runs through us all.

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Once again I am reminded of a phrase from an old Hindu prayer that I love: Thou art everywhere, but I worship thee here. There is a reverence that comes when we are rooted in the earth of our landscape, when we listen for its heartbeat in the changing seasons and feel our place within it. Our human lives differ only in detail and degree, both from each other and from that of the land, yet the essence of life itself runs through all with a kinship too often forgotten or ignored. Yet it is beautiful, and within this earth our own roots are planted deeply, and our life is drawn from the same source.

58 thoughts on “Rooted in earth

  1. After reading your post, and I sat thinking about it, my attention was drawn to a magpie who was trying his best to land on the bird feeder just a few feet from my window, much to the annoyance of a group of hungry sparrows.
    It is good to be reminded of all the important, natural way of things… things that will never change…

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  2. A profound piece and well worth rereading, especially for me, a person who has raced through most of her life. I am saving this one. Thanks for this gift. xo

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  3. A beautiful and thoughtful post, Sue. The life of the Earth does move much more slowly than we do, and she will be here long after we are gone, until at last she, too, breathes her last.

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  4. That’s beautiful. It also helps me. Part of my unconnectedness at this time is because I haven’t had a chance to experience my new local landscape. And reading a book this week set in my old one really made me ‘homesick’. You’ve helped me realise that I need to go out and search for the snowdrops, the windflowers, the other early flowers in the hedgerows, outside my garden, but inside my locality. I need to spend time looking for the birds, finding out if there are other creatures in this much more populated area. Then I can connect to it.

    Thank you (hugs)

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  5. Your post is exceptional.

    I, too, have wondered how many millions walked the same Earth, and were awed by the sunsets. How many have enjoyed the varieties of wild flowers waving in the breeze, or stopped to listen to the wind whisper through pine needles.

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  6. I woke up and made a ‘privvy call’ early this morning – – just at the time the full (nearly full, just past full?) moon shone through the broken portion of by bathroom ‘window shades’ covering – – I rather laughed at myself thinking, “Hmm…no wonder I haven’t been sleeping all night long the past few days – – no wonder Oakley was dancing, prancing, inviting me out to play in the yard with her – – thank goodness I don’t have to shore up winter pantry stores by going out ‘hunting’ when it’s light enough to see at night – – Thank goodness I’m not longer working front line customer service in hospitality or EMS services!” I went back to bed, but I laid there, a long time, trying to decide whether to bundle up and go outside to ‘drink in the moment’ or if I had, for a moment, paid attention enough and that was good enough…..all while I hunkered back down under my covers and gave thanks for being warm, not hungry and comfortable enough to ‘sleep through it’ – – LOL

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      1. Maybe, but I did so love the serendipity of me thinking such things this morning and seeing your post/share in the feed – which, I ‘noticed’ out loud and proud, in wider social, collective consciousness land – – LOL

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  7. Reblogged this on ShiftnShake and commented:
    “I do not think it is possible to work with the stories, currents and history of the land and remain oblivious to the rich tapestry of life.”

    So writes Sue Vincent, beloved blogger at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. There, in addition to sharing her remarkable paintings, poetry, flash fiction, short stories and more, she has also grown a community of writers who respond to her beautiful photographs for the popular #writephoto prompt. These photos are mostly of landscapes, land that Sue knows well on many levels.
    By now you have seen on different blogs that we are rallying around our friend Sue who has given so much to so many. The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic is a contest that will honor Sue. The details of that are best heard from the horse’s mouth when the event is posted at Carrot Ranch tomorrow, February 1. There you will also learn of additional ways to take part; one is to join the “Parade” in which you can reblog one of Sue’s posts from any of her sites— Daily Echo or France and Vincent— with a comment about why you found it special. I am reblogging Sue’s piece Rooted In Earth that she published on a third site, The Silent Eye.
    She had me at the title, and I this truly resonates with me: “There is a reverence that comes when we are rooted in the earth of our landscape, when we listen for its heartbeat in the changing seasons and feel our place within it.” But Sue tricked me Good, for this piece is also a reverence for being human on the Earth.
    “Yet it is beautiful, and within this earth our own roots are planted deeply, and our life is drawn from the same source.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think the land that is England is a grand source for your thoughts, Sue. It’s hard to imagine generations that long ago here unless you travel the West, which I plan to do again next year. Wonderful writing!

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  9. Sue, I love your words of wisdom about enjoying nature. The Hindu prayer toward the end resonates, as to me, I feel more spiritual when I am out in nature, taking a hike, walking on the beach, etc.

    I attended a panel discussion at a Sierra Club meeting, that was replicated at an Interfaith group meeting. Each meeting had leaders from various religious sects – a priest, a rabbi, a minister, a Hindi, an imam, etc. They spoke of how in each the religious texts, the supreme being asks we humans to be caretakers of the earth.

    Take care, Keith

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  10. Thank you for this post. The Earth may be equally ancient everywhere, but I think it’s easier to feel such connections in a place where one’s ancestral roots run so deep.

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  11. Beautiful stuff, Sue. I took my first trip to the South in 2011 to explore the beginnings of the Civil war 150 years later. As a Northerner, I was moved by some of the things I read and saw as I put myself in the place of the people of the time. Thank you for sharing your views here.

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      1. Yes, it does. I toured with a social studies teacher I trusted from the South so I would get the an authentic perspective. It was a great experience. 🙂

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  12. When I was younger I got into a debate with a priest about being married inside a church building. I said, ” … but God is everywhere. He said, “God is in the bathroom but you wouldn’t get married there, would you?”

    Looking back I realize he sensed that I had no real reverence for anything. Getting married in a sacred place and seeing marriage as a sacred act seemed like impediments in my young mind. Now I see the beauty of our ancestors in their faith and in the buildings they constructed — secular or sacred. Even handmade tools were signed to be passed down the generations.

    I really enjoyed your post. It brought to mind so many things to ponder.

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