Strawberries shaped my view of a world full of gifts simply scattered at your feet. A gift comes to you through no action of your own, free, having moved toward you without your beckoning. It is not a reward, you cannot earn it, or call it to you, or even deserve it. And yet it appears.
Sweetgrass belongs to Mother Earth. Sweetgrass pickers collect properly and respectfully, for their own use and the needs of their community. They return a gift to the earth.
That is the fundamental nature of gifts: they move, and their value increases with their passage. The fields made a gift of berries to us and we made a gift of them to our father. The more something is shared, the greater its value becomes. This is hard to grasp for societies steeped in notions of private property, where others are, by definition, excluded from sharing.
The essence of a gift is that it creates a set of relationships. The currency of a gift economy is, at its root, reciprocity.
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass, 27-28
Thanksgiving has come and gone. We gave thanks for the food placed on the table and for the family or friends who shared it with us.
In our culture giving thanks can feel forced: I remember how my brothers and cousins and I hated to be asked to say grace at Grandma’s house. When we have not been taught, it can be difficult for us to understand that nothing is ours by right. Continue reading “The Gifts of Life: Do We Remember? by Carol P. Christ”