Sacred Earth

I am the vine and you are the branches.
-John 15:5

God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.
-Exodus 3:5

This earth we are riding keeps trying to tell us something with its continuous scripture of leaves
–William Stafford

I love the element of earth. I adore trees and mountains. I love the feel of dirt or sand under my feet.  The earth feels solid and secure, grounding me here in this place, in this moment.  When I am deeply rooted, my branches can reach far and wide.

When Jesus walked the earth, he used metaphors of soil and harvest to deliver his message.  What does it mean to take this image of vine and branches seriously?  We live in a time when we are disconnected from the gifts of the earth, from her cycles, rhythms, and seasons.  I love the image of the scripture of leaves that Stafford offers — what if we were to consider the changing trees as a sacred text where the Holy One is revealed to us in new ways each season?  We are cut off from the origins of our food so neatly packaged in supermarket displays.  How might our eating patterns be transformed into sacred nourishment, connecting our feasting to and honoring the land that is the source of this abundance?

When I was at the Columbia River Gorge in October there was a day when Mount Hood appeared so clearly against the pale blue sky where the day before it had been shrouded in mist.  I was filled with awe and felt connected to the wonder this sight must have inspired in indigenous peoples, and why this mountain would have been considered sacred.  Mountains have always been places of theophany, an encounter with holiness.

What does it mean to be rooted in a time when we are so free to move to another place?  What are the gifts the earth is waiting to offer us, if we only pay attention?  When was the last time you stood on the earth without your shoes and recognized it as holy ground?

-Christine Valters Paintner

You might also enjoy