A Place Called Home
Updated: Jun 20, 2022
In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold wrote about land not as something you stand on or own, but rather as a place created by a living community. This month Living Connected is focusing on creation’s gift of land and the home places it provides for us.
Stand (or sit) outside your home for 15 minutes. Slowly turn around for a 365 degree look at every living being in the place – people, other animals, and plants. Who do you see? Close your eyes – what do you hear, feel or smell? Who do you notice? Celebrate the diversity of life in your home place.
The place where you live connects you to many living beings today, and in the past and future. Before it was your home, it was home for Indigenous people and native plants and animals. In parts of the US, the land became home for slaves who worked it, or French or Spanish colonists, who then were displaced by US settlers. For better or worse, your home place was formed by all the living beings who came before you. Now, the way you treat the land contributes to whether it’s a home place for people and other living beings in the future.
Focus on one living being who currently shares your home place. Consider how the place meets their needs. Give thanks for all who work for wholeness of the land, where people live with the land and its community of life, instead of on it as conquerors. How can you extend hospitality to other living beings who share your home place?
This month I invite you to try one or more of the following spiritual practices for living with the land.
Consider the way God’s Word may inform your perspective of the gift of land: Leviticus 25:1-7, Psalm 104:3-23, Isaiah 24:4-6, and Hosea 4:1-3.
Read and reflect on Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth and Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision, both by Randy S. Woodley or The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham.
Learn about the Indigenous people who stewarded the land that now is your home place. Where do they live today, and how are they still connected to your home place?
Use the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Web Soil Survey to learn about the soils and vegetation where you live.
Learn the names of insects, reptiles, birds, or other living beings who share your home place.
Visit the nearest nature reserve, wildlife refuge, or conservation area to learn about the plants and animals native to where you live.
If you have a lawn, embrace biodiversity within it and stop using herbicides.
Chose native trees, bushes, and flowers when planting.
Learn about integrated pest management for homeowners.
If you own land, dedicate a 10% portion (a tithe!) of your land to native plants and habitat.
Organize a group to adopt a creek, highway, or other public space for litter cleanup.
Participate in a community volunteer group that maintains parkland or other public space.
Lead your congregation in implementing suggestions from Rev. Dr. David Rhoads’ “Stewarding Your Church Property as an Earth Community.”
Learn the boards and committees (e.g., open space, parks, zoning) that make land use decisions in your community and participate in their activities.
· Attend public meetings.
· Review and comment on plans made available to the public.
· Advocate for equity in access to open space and green space.
· Advocate for incorporation of open space and natural areas in land
· Advocate for native plantings in public spaces and landscaping ordinances.
· Consider pursuing a nomination or election to a board or commission.