Have you ever thought about that?
When I first stepped into the story of the medicine plants, this one simple fact just blew my mind. I remember sitting in my little yard, looking upon all the weeds growing around me that I had thought of as nothing more than nuisance for most of my life with new eyes. "You are medicine", I thought, "and I never knew". All this time, the medicine was under my feet, coming back, returning, no matter how many times I refused their gifts.
The earth offers us her medicine as gifts. It is right there for the taking. How amazing is that? Amazing enough to blow your mind?
But wait, let's examine the meaning of the gift, because I think there is some confusion about this term in our culture. Does gift mean "free"? Well, yes and no.
In our consumer culture we tend to equate gift with free, with getting something for nothing. But just because something is offered to you, without expectation of payment in exchange, doesn't necessarily mean it is "free".
Herein lies the difficulty…because we must slow down…drop into our hearts…feel the difference. When a gift is given, especially one we need very deeply. We feel grateful. Our hearts open. A connection is made. A bond.
This is inherently different than something given for fee, like a pen advertising a bank. There is no bond created here. It is a false gift. A gift not to connect, but to extract.
A true gift is offered in love, because the giver is aware of the value of relationship, of connection…
like your grandmother baking you cookies.
When I receive the gift of medicine from the earth, I am not taking something that is free. I am choosing to participate in a relationship. And to honor the gift, I acknowledge my part. I want to give back, to continue to participate in the dance of give and take that keeps our connection alive.
Just as we say thank you to grandma and offer a hug, or a drawing to give back, we can give thanks to the earth, to the plants, we can do more, we can enter the dance of relationship.
It is the difference between a multinational company removing mountaintops to extract the coal beneath, taking without any sense of relationship to the land, and the native medicine man who offers prayers, only takes what is needed, nurtures the land, and then protects it from harm.
We choose the type of relationship we cultivate with the earth. We wouldn't barge into grandma's house and take her cookies, leaving the kitchen a mess and walking out without a word. Why do we do this to the earth? We have forgotten. She is our mother, our grandmother. She has always taken care of us.
The medicine we make comes from the earth, it is a gift. When we honor the gift by respecting our relationship, our medicine is strengthened. It has the power of love compounded.
I have met medicine makers who have deep respect for this gift, and I have met those who see only what they can take for themselves. The earth is patient. She keeps giving. Waiting for us to get it, to enter the dance, to hear her song, to join in the great give and take of life. When we do, we suddenly realize, we are so much more that what we receive.