Autumn Rambles is an online resource, adapted and used with permission from prayerbench.ca
Day 6: Remedies
Plants are the oldest beings on Earth. Today we honour plants, not just for their beauty but for their gifts of medicine. Since ancient times, plants have been harvested to heal wounds, to treat diseases, to ease the mind. Perhaps you have an Aloe Vera plant in your home? It is perhaps the oldest known medicinal plant in the world. I (Rev. Gail) remember how once when I was travelling, I burnt my leg badly on the exhaust of a moped; an eyewitness close by quickly cut open an Aloe plant growing nearby, and soothed my wound with the healing gel.
Or do you have a cluster of lavender near you? We have some growing at the front of our Green Cathedral at HSUC. It is popular for its oil and a small drop on a pillow can help a person to relax and sleep.
Maples bring us the gift of maple syrup, so good on pancakes or porridge.
We confess, though, we have a kind of “plant blindness.” We don’t understand the gifts plants bring to us. We’ve forgotten what our ancestors knew. We confess we are takers of their gifts and have lost a sense of humility and connection with plants. It is said that the average North American knows the name of less than ten plants. We can turn to Indigenous ways of knowing to help us reclaim plant medicine teaching and how to respect the being of plants. Elder Karyn Saunders shares from her traditional teachings that, “…plants are people. We consider them people and because of that we also consider them the old-est beings on earth. Plants were first so they hold the most knowledge, so we consider them our elders, and see it that way. If nothing else, how to respect plants? Just treat them as if they are your grandparents, if you are respectful of your grandparents, treat them like that…” (quoted in an Plant Spirit Medicine online article.)
Plants have much to teach us. They make beauty. They make food. They make medicines. We have much to learn so that we can contribute our respect and gratitude to their flourishing.
Spiritual Practice – Prayer.
If you are struggling with illness, mental or physical, take some time to engage in this Breath Prayer, repeating it several times:
Breathe in healing. Breathe out worry (or dis-ease).
At this time leading to Thanksgiving – say a prayer of gratitude:
“We give thanks to our non-human teachers,
thanks to the plants that pull themselves towards the light,
thanks to the mushrooms that mysteriously grow,
thanks to those whose ways sustain us all.
We give thanks to animal others that fly above or crawl below.
We give thanks as we learn and recognize them as family. (
One deep breath) We give thanks to this air in our lungs. We have plenty.”
And there is also this beautiful prayer from Hildegard of Bingen, an abbess of the Middle Ages and the first German woman physician:
“Holy Spirit, you are the breath of all creatures.
You are the salve that purifies our souls.
You are the ointment that heals our wounds.
You are the fire that warms our hearts.
You are the light that guides our feet.
Let all the world praise you.”
Be aware of the plants that see as you walk today – or from your window. Take a a photo of them and try to identify them - you may need to learn new names.
If you have a story about a plant that helped you – I’d love you to share it with me!
Happy Rambling – Rev. Gail