Touch the Earth by Chasity Jones

I was recently asked how I reconcile being a Christian with also being a critic of Christian theology, traditions, and culture. I am asked this often and my answer is always the same. I have not found reconciliation and might always be finding a way to reconcile this – an endless cycle of trying to make my heart fit into a structure in which centers whiteness and domination.

This time is different though. When I was asked my mind immediately returned to the Earth. Nature. Creation. How I have always longed for a plot of sacred Earth of my own in which I would continually give birth to and create life in various ways. How so far this dream has seemed from my brown fingertips. Never in my almost twenty-nine years, have I imagined I would have the opportunity to own my own land. However, in the last few years since I worked and lived on a farm and have been manifesting with lunar energy and ritual that one day I would harvest and care for a land of my own. A land that I would pass down to my children. A land in which we would find God. A land which would sustain us.

Today, I have never been closer to owning that land and I cannot help but feel as though my ancestors are smiling down upon me. I embrace them and welcome their strength and the persistence needed to fulfil the requirements and to endure the process of ownership of land. It is such a spiritual act and such an act of justice, for my ancestors were never permitted to own the land they worked. They poured their blood, sweat, tears, and often bodies into land they knew would never be theirs. However, it is possible that they dreamed that their descendants would one day own it.

Far from the traditional and Western Christian relational dynamics of dominating the land, I wish to live in peace with Her. My ancestors were people of the land and used her to heal and sustain themselves through unimaginable catastrophe.

“When we love the earth, we are able to love ourselves more.”

bell hooks in her book Sisters of the Yam: Black Women and Self Recovery completely transformed my relationship with nature. She helped me to understand that I had what she calls “an estranged relationship with nature.” She also helped me understand that most Black girls’ relationship with nature is estranged due to the circumstances and rigid environments that formed us as Black girls. Black girls are denied imagination, sensuality, pleasure, and liberation and are most likely parented through authoritarianism. This encouraged me to take baby steps into nature. First doing yoga in the grass (exploring the crevices of the universe), then dirt became soil, sweat became natural, and growing things were the closest I had ever been to giving birth and creating life. I admired the simplicity in a time which proved the most chaotic in my life.

There were times when I was alone in a farm in which the moon became my closest friend. We whispered promises and pledges to each other. Mine of devotion, hers of consistent change. In all her faces, She is embodied femininity.

hooks continues,

“living in modern society without a sense of history, it has been easy for folks to forget that black people were first and foremost a people of the land, farmers. It is easy for folks to forget that at the first part of the 20th century, the vast majority of black folks in the United States lived in the agrarian south…Living close to nature, black folks were able to cultivate a spirit of wonder and reverence for life. Growing food to sustain life and flowers to please the soul, they were able to make a connection with the earth that was ongoing and life affirming. They were witnesses to beauty.”

We were made to believe that the cities would fulfil our dreams, but they only diminished us.

“Estrangement from nature and engagement in mind/body splits made it all the more possible for black people to internalize white supremacist assumptions about black identity.”

hooks declares that nature is a form of healing ourselves as our ancestors did but also a form of resilience. Without the relationship to nature in the concrete jungles of cities, we become susceptible. Essentially, we are sustained and affirmed by the life around us.

Over the last five years, I have pushed myself to improve my relationship with the nature around me and Seattle, WA was the perfect place to do that. It mushrooms with life. When I am stressed or overwhelmed I reach down to touch the Earth and She absorbs my pain. There is an energetic transference, a relationship. The Earth is alive.

I take comfort in dreaming of a space on this Earth as far as the eye can see living in harmony with my family; dwelling with God. A place for my family to call home and something significant to give to my children. The concept of ancestral homes that British aristocratic society so casually throw around will be accessible to my descendants. They will have an ancestral home.

I take comfort in dreaming about summer barbeques in the hot Georgia sun and inviting lifelong friends over. I dream of living off the land and not having to be as threatened if/when another pandemic should make its way into history. I dream of my children growing up knowing their cousins and taking turns to see who can create the biggest splash from a cannon ball. I dream of teaching my children about seeds and technique and basking in their wonder as they watch their plants grow. I do not wish to own or dominate the Earth, but Black people have learned that in order for us to be protected and sovereign we need to have a place of our own. So, I will.

We will dwell with God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chasity is a Louisiana native and from a conservative, Evangelical background until moving to Seattle, WA to be a community organizer (young adult missionary). It was here she began to challenge traditional mission work in the context of colonialism and began her own process of liberation (decolonization). For the last two years, as a Master of Divinity student at Boston University School of Theology, she has focused her degree on exploring various Liberation Theologies including Black Liberation, Womanist, and Decolonization Theologies.  

She has recently launched Fourth Wave Revolution in an attempt to educate as well as decolonize! For the last five years, she has done this through various ways: sermons, adult Sunday schools, workshops, individual and collective consulting, yoga and mindfulness, support groups, and more!  It was her hope to one day give birth to a movement that would transform the way we engage in anti-oppression and anti-racism work while maintaining and in some cases recovering ourselves. According to Decolonial theorist Albert Memmi, racism is a symptom of colonialism (The Colonizer and the Colonized, 69-70). Therefore, we must reach deeper and address as close to the root as possible to dismantle racism and white supremacy. Fourth Wave Revolution is committed to digging deeper.

As a new mother, Chasity is also thinking into conscious parting as well as how to transmit the core of feminist, womanist, and liberation theologies to children. To stay updated on upcoming events, follow our Facebook page by clicking here!



Categories: Ancestors, Divine Feminine, Earth-based spirituality, Family, General, Healing, land, Moon, Mother Earth

Tags: , ,

10 replies

  1. At the risk of being misunderstood, I have to comment on these words: “My ancestors were people of the land and used her to heal and sustain themselves through unimaginable catastrophe.” The word “Use” is what we have been taught to do with regard to the earth – it’s a devastating Christian ideal – to use the Earth for healing, for food, for for whatever – S/he’s a resource – nothing more. Today, of all days, we need to ask: WHAT CAN WE DO FOR THE EARTH? This Earth, our First Mother, who is in such peril. By the end of the century we will lose more than 50 percent of all non human species on earth in the 6th extinction, which is NOT as the public would have it a normal occurrence. These horrifying losses will diminish what’s left of us in ways we cannot yet comprehend. When we lose access to Earth’s creatures and trees we lose ourselves. WE DO NOT OWN THE LAND; WE BELONG TO HER. The First Peoples of this country seem to be the only humans that remember this fact.

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    • Thanks for the comment. The whole point of what I’m saying is that my ancestors did not own the land they tended. The land in my post is personified to invoke that the land is not a thing to be owned- but it is true that knowledge of herbs and other fruit from the womb of the land were used to sustain my people while enslaved, sustainably and with respect like the First Nations people. I understand how the term use can invoke a posture of domination but that is not what I meant in the least. Perhaps the term ‘partner with’ the land to sustain themselves is more accurate?

      I agree you that no one owns the land but Black people have learned time and time again the devastating effects of having no place to call our own legally and Black Americans (and other descendants of enslaved Africans in various countries) are unique people in that we belong no where. I don’t think we should be ashamed of legally possessing our land, especially since we never received any reparations for the land we did work for over 4 centuries.
      What my post is saying is that I am creating a place for my family to belong!

      Liked by 2 people

      • “My ancestors were people of the land and used her to heal and sustain themselves through unimaginable catastrophe.”

        I would suggest: ..”and turned to her to heal”… That is how I read your words.

        I have found Finding Your African Roots and many episodes of Finding Your Roots helpful in understanding African American’s connection to the land after the end of the Civil War. I learned that most African Americans were forced to work as tenant farmers often on the same land where they once worked as slaves and that those who owned land were the exception not the rule–and always in fear that if they did too well, they could be visited by the KKK. Nonetheless their connection to the land was healing and sustaining, as you say.

        On the other hand, Sarah is right to point out that we need to choose the right words to express what we mean, because it is all too easy–for all of us–to repeat the language of the dominators because their ways of thinking, speaking, and writing have been normalized.

        More power to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A wonderful post! That’s so exciting that you are ever closer to having your own piece of land! I only have a small place to garden – less than an eighth of an acre — but I know that spending time there and cultivating it for the well being of the plants, animals, birds and insects who live or visit there is what grounds and energizes me. I hope you will write more about your journey for FAR!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful post. And you know the secret of life! Touching the Earth and being touched in return. May you continue to be fruitful! Thank you so much for an uplifting meditation on life to begin my day today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved your post, Chastity. And I agree with you that alienation from nature, from the land, is one of the modern deprivations that African-Americans experience. In fact, I just read an article today that showed that”one study in the U.K. found that being exposed to green spaces protected people from the harmful effects of poverty on their health. In another study, poor residents in urban public housing felt that the obstacles in their life were less severe and more solvable when their apartment looked out onto greenery, rather than a cityscape.” I hope your experience will light a fire for other Blacks to find their way back to the land.

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  5. Thank you, Chas, for this wonderful post; so inspiring! I admire your connection with your ancestors and the earth. You reminded me about my own dream of having a piece of land. A dream that was postponed and lost amid the rush of daily routines. I’ll start saving again to have my own piece of land so you can come to visit. 🧡

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  6. Thank you for this informative post. I never really thought about how Black people have lost their connection to Mother Earth. I love the way you combine Christianity with earth-centered spirituality. I too love being in touch with nature. I have a few acres that include some woods and I have found that being in the woods is healing. I have a small flower garden and grow tomatoes and basil, but I’ve left most of the land alone so it is filled with native species that draw bees, butterflies, and birds. I also love feeding the squirrels, birds, and raccoons. I hope you will soon have some land to call home. Please do write more for us at FAR.

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