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What we do to the Earth, We do to Ourselves

I had escaped from the concrete jungle one August summer day to be connected with the land once again. Every summer, it is my tradition to harvest medicines for ceremonial and spiritual practices. Being Cree, two of those medicines are sage and sweetgrass. With every medicine I took from the land, I would place tobacco down & offer my prayers. With every prayer, I acknowledged Creator’s masterpiece all around me. With every acknowledgement, I was reminded that I am a mere strand in this web of life. There I was, in the thick of this web of life, in the midst of creation, on the prairies…this alone was medicine. The act of harvesting medicines was indeed medicine for my spirit. It was prayer. It was sacred. It was ceremony. 

The earth is my medicine.     

How amazing is it to think the Creator not only gave us land to walk on, to live on and to exist on but in His wisdom, He gave us medicines of the land to keep us well physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  

After harvesting all morning, I found a spot & sat in stillness. There was serenity, calm, and peace. Being reconnected with the land, I couldn’t help but be reconnected with the Maker of this land. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the intricacies of each part of creation and sit in awe. From every strand of sweetgrass to the healing properties of the medicines I was harvesting to the ant that was carrying a crumb across my blanket.  

“Let me learn lessons you have hidden in every leaf & rock...”

Before harvesting the medicines, I listened to the wisdom & teachings of the Elders. Now, I was listening to the wisdom & teachings of the land. Normally, I would have swatted that ant far away from me but this time I just watched the ant. What could this ant possibly teach me, Creator!? And no sooner than that thought came another thought: oh consider the ways of the ant …just as Proverbs teaches us. If I were to be honest, I was really hoping for a majestic lesson from the land in the way of watching an eagle soar overhead! Instead, I was given the humble teachings of the ant. (I must admit, I did some more research & the ant is one fascinating creature!)

Once again, I was reminded of the sacredness of earth. The earth is my medicine, my teacher and more importantly, the earth is a gift from Creator. Climate justice matters to me for all those reasons. As I walk in my Cree traditional ways, the earth gives me life in all aspects spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. To protect her, to preserve her, to take care of her…is really, to take care of myself.   

“What we do to the earth, we do to ourselves”…

[Editor's note: In this article, Michelle refers to gathering medicines for traditional Cree ceremonies such as smudging. To learn more about smudging as a Christian Aboriginal ceremony, visit this webpage from the Canadian Aboriginal Ministry Committee.]


This is the final post in our Why I Care about Climate Change series. Many thanks to all the writers! To see the other posts, visit the series page

[Top image: Melissa Blunden Photography, all rights reserved]

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