By Sharifa Oppenheimer

We have desecrated sacred place. Having stolen place’s breath and spirit, we deem it empty space, no longer teeming with living presences seen and unseen, with ancestors and heirs. Imagining it inert, we subject it to quantification, with monetization always close behind. The commons ~ our birthright to be in living relationship with waters, lands, food plants, shade trees, fishes, fowl, four-leggeds ~ is stolen, carved into sections, bought and sold. Its life-spirit, desacralized as resources, is extracted and put on the market to the highest bidder. 

Yet sacred place is our original home, nuanced within folds of forested hillsides each unique with sun-spangled oak or hickory, fern and pin cushion moss, or meadows thronging with asters and goldenrod, stately mullein guarding roadsides; each place radiating its unique scent of spirit. 

Let us reclaim our human heritage as keepers of the land, lovers of this particular tulip poplar with her five silver trunks and emerald moss growing on the north side, become kin to stream bed stones carrying these effulgent waters that flow over them. We are heirs to the wisdom of unseen ancestors who crowd close as we make offerings and prayers; partners to other-than-human beings who perceive us as clearly as we perceive them; benefactors to countless generations, descendants who watch our actions with bright hope. 

Excerpted from A Litany of Wild Graces ~ Meditations on Sacred Ecology, Red Elixir Press 2022, with permission of Monkfish Book Publishing

Sharifa Oppenheimer 

Sharifa Oppenheimer’s new book A Litany of Wild Graces: Meditations on Sacred Ecology (Red Elixir Press) explores ~ through essays, poetry, dreams and litany ~ humanity’s biological and spiritual inter-being with our other-than-human relations. She offers Sacred Earth ~ Sacred Self gatherings both online as well as amidst the leaf-litter at the foot of the hickory and poplar that grace her Virginia forest land. She is also author of the best-selling Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children as well as With Star in Their Eyes: Brain Science and Your Child.

Please login to comment