Before we left, Stephen handed each of us a few precious corn kernels asking that, when we returned to our respective home lands, we reverently bury them, grieve over them, tend their graves, and with nature’s grace watch the renewal of life and the growth of a new corn plant. It occurred to me that this is what he had done – planted seeds in our hearts and our minds, which are watered by our tears and tended by the labours of our learning, in the hope that a new elder might begin to grow in each of us with an understanding that death is a gift, “the cradle of our love of life”.
Stephen Jenkinson, the author of Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul, calls upon people to bear witness to a world that we wish were otherwise and he offers an opportunity to learn how to labour at the planting of hard-won seeds so that we might possibly, against what are sometimes great odds, learn to live, and die, well.
For some years now I have been encouraging creatives to plant nasturtium seeds and, over a period of at least a month, talk to them and watch them grow. I encourage people to keep a record in a small notebook that is covered with imagery of growth.
This is a simple task. Just fill a planter with rich potting mix and add some nasturtium seeds. Talk to the pot and the seeds and agree upon where to place it. Then spend at least ten minutes each day tending to it, taking photos, keeping a journal record. You will be amazed by what this simple plant has to teach you.
“Yggdrasill, the World Tree”
Collage of digital and painted elements
“The axis of the [Norse] universe was an enormous tree, Yggdrasill, also known as the World Tree, which formed a column linking the worlds of the gods, mankind, the giants, and the dead. Its fortunes mirrored those of the universe it sheltered; as well as sustaining the world, it suffered in the same way as those who lived it.” —Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth and Storytelling, p.277
Image: L. Gloyd (c) 2009
From our recent dialogue about Hildegard’s “greening”, I made this quick little sketch in my journal. After I titled it the “Green Tree”, I realized that this was not quite the right name — but maybe there is some unconscious motive behind my naming a white tree “green”. LOL.
L. Gloyd (c) 2009