We wanted land. Land to grow things, to raise animals, to build upon, to tend. We wanted blisters on our hands and calluses on our feet. We wanted to taste our sweat, feel our muscles burn, and then relax with some homemade beer in front of a roaring fire at the end of a long day. We wanted to harvest honey, gather eggs, spin fiber, and split wood. We wanted to raise sons and daughters to appreciate the sound of silence and the clarity of a night sky so clear that you can see the Milky Way in cold of winter. We wanted to be in community with other fellow homesteaders, sharing ideas and breaking freshly baked bread together. These were all things that had only been dreams when living in a cramped, rented apartment with little sun and neighbors who ducked into their houses before anyone could mumble a friendly hello.
And thus was the way that Mother Nature courted us. Her sensual beckoning drove us mad with desire and frustrated with impatience. She danced slightly out of our reach, ducking behind obstacles like home loan approvals and darting in and out of practicalities like job security and worries over distance from loved ones. Ah, she was a sly one, that Mother Nature. Her siren song was irresistible, and eventually, we bent beneath the strain.
We bought a modest 1 ½ acres of land in a mountain town about two and a half hours drive from the familiar bustling of Los Angeles. The house was old but charming. There was endless possibility on the property: old, unpruned grape vines, thirsty fruit trees, a doorless, runless chicken coop, a leaking barn, a dark root cellar, an ill-planned greenhouse, and an extra room built into the garage. We had stars in our eyes and fell in love immediately.
Romance has a way of blinding us to realism.
Since then, our courtship has been rocky, but the romance has continued to deepen. The days when mustard weeds grow two feet tall overnight are balanced by the days when our hens happily free-range around the back of our property. The summers when we work from sunrise to sunset, every day, for three months straight, are balanced by the jars of juicy concord grape jelly, the omelets made from warm eggs, the honey dripping from the comb as we remove it from the hive, and the clean smell of composted earth as we lay it across our garden beds. The day I encountered a five-foot-long rattlesnake on my front porch is balanced by visits from families of quiet, graceful deer and the approving nods from the wild cattle that occasionally roam down our back hill.
And then there are the days when we really see Mother Nature shine—from furious thunderstorms to blazing heat to gentle snowfalls. She frightens us, infuriates us, and enamors us on a whim. And we love her for it.
When people speak to me of the Divine Feminine, my relationship with the earth is, in part, how I relate. In my own experience, I can only say that the common name of “Mother Nature” fits perfectly in my understanding of God’s slow and sensual embodiment through our very planet. The earth is an expression of romance, of beckoning, of an invitation to engage with our Creator in a most intimate way. Creation is God’s seduction.
The nuances of gender pronouns when speaking of the divine, while certainly important, interest me less than the feel of the Spirit moving in and around me. The feeling of earth between my fingers is most feminine. It is charged with potential energy. The hills behind my house are curvy, like a woman’s torso. When gardening, I feel safe and content, embraced in the bosom of my Mother God. I can relate to the psalmist: “But I have stilled and quieted my soul;like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me” (Psa 131:2 NIV).
I don’t ascribe to the belief that the earth itself is our Mother, but it certainly bears resemblance to its Creator. And as humanity embodies the imago Dei, so too does the earth have elements that can reflect our God, helping us to understand the Divine in ways our language does not have words to describe.
“I loved her and sought her from my youth; I desired to take her for my bride, and became enamored of her beauty” (Wis 8:2 NRS). I have felt a longing for God from a very young age, but only in the last decade have I been able to commit myself to our love affair. Now, from the quiet of our mountain home and with my son at my breast, I feel the Divine Creator’s presence all the more acutely in my surroundings. God’s Autumn is dazzling me before we snuggle in for the cold of winter. The sound of the rain outside is softening as the night falls and it turns to snow. I spread some raspberry jam onto toast, a celebration of July’s harvest. And I whisper goodnight, nestling into the womb of the One who will beckon me once again in the morning.