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Book review: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

I began reading Braiding Sweetgrass shortly after I was lent the paperback book in September 2021. The subheading is Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Being divided into chapters, all beautifully written with much food for thought, it was easy to put this book aside and pick it up later. I finished reading it towards the end of March.

Although the plants in the book all grow in North America I cannot recommend Braiding Sweetgrass highly enough, no matter where you live. Robin Wall Kimmerer combines her people’s traditions with the knowledge she has gained through her scientific training. There are stories about places and people, traditional tales and warnings about taking creation for granted.

The world would be a better place if we all regarded the good things of the earth as gifts, respecting living things and not making monetary gain and material possessions our priority.

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Unwrapping #AtoZChallenge

This year my A to Z challenge is about Christmas, a major festival in the Christian Church. Another major festival is Easter, which I wrote about for the A to Z Challenge in 2020.

Do you like unwrapping gifts? Or perhaps you prefer wrapping them to give to someone special.

I have begun to unwrap the Christmas story in this A to Z Challenge. There are five more posts to come.

Christmas is a time when many people give and receive presents. Unfortunately some of the wrapping paper available for sale in the western world is not environmentally friendly. Paper requires trees to be grown and harvested. Pulp from trees is one of the raw materials from which paper is made. Much paper can be recycled, but there is a problem with wrapping paper. Some of it is decorated with aluminium foil. This sort cannot be recycled as it is too difficult to separate the foil from the paper. As a result our local council will not accept any wrapping paper for recycling.

Instead people are encouraged to find other ways of wrapping presents. Fabric bags or squares may be reused. Brown paper may be recycled. Perhaps brown paper could be brightened up with coloured string (re-usable) or ribbon. Rosettes and reels of plastic ribbon are sold in many stationery shops. These are not recyclable. Perhaps we should all think carefully about what we give for Christmas presents and how we present them (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Back to the Christmas story. When we read the gospel stories in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 as well as St John the Evangelist’s wonderful opening passage (John 1:1-18) we begin to perceive the wonder and excitement. A Bible with cross-references (or indeed a website such a Bible Gateway) allows us to look back to prophecies about the Messiah’s birth. We can see that this was something God planned and revealed to prophets hundreds of years before it happened.

Unwrapping reveals what is inside. As a new-born baby Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth, known as swaddling bands. After his death he was wrapped in strips of cloth, known as grave-clothes. Those were left neatly in the tomb when he was raised from the dead. Luke 24:1-12.

A carol which asks what we can give the Christ-child is Christina Rosetti’s In the bleak midwinter It also mentions the animals traditionally associated with the stable where Jesus was born.

While this year’s A to Z badges by Anjela Curtis honour the late Jeremy Hawkins, I hope that my posts about Christmas honour Jesus Christ, ‘who was and is and is to come’. Revelation 1:4

I am also linking this post to WordPress’s new monthly challenge #WordPrompt for which the word is Green.

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A topical poem

My social life at present is enhanced by the online groups I have joined. One of these is a poetry group, which meets once a month. There is an optional challenge to write a poem on a theme. The poems are read aloud at the next meeting.

The theme for our March meeting, which falls in the Christian season of Lent, is wilderness. Earlier this week I wrote a poem, which I am sharing with you here. My prayer is that the prophecy in Isaiah 2:4 would soon be fulfilled.

The War in Ukraine

Making a wilderness,
Burning and destroying,
Polluting, disrupting,
Soldiers deploying.

Some people are fleeing,
Their settled lives over.
Women and children – how
Will they recover?

Men and youths (all ages)
Bear unfamiliar arms.
An unprovoked foe can
Cause such alarms.

Homes deserted, folk
Shelter beneath the ground.
Noise, dust, black smoke and fumes –
Where can peace be found?

Around the world people pray
In bewilderedness
For a quick, peaceful end
To war-caused wilderness.

The post linked to on the word Lent mentions wilderness as well as Lent. It is one of my posts for the Blogging from A to in April Challenge 2020. I have found that taking part in The Blogging from A to Z Challenge has helped me connect with bloggers in other countries (and continents). Information about the dates for the 2022 Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge may be found here. The theme reveal is later this month.

Another blogger who has written about Lent and Wilderness is Malcolm Guite, an accomplished poet.