The Prairie Has Much to Teach Us

Ann Moyer Benedictine Bridge, Care for the Earth, Monastic Life, Volunteers Leave a Comment

Dormant-prairie
The prairie teaches us to take time to slow down, develop and nurture deep roots. 

The prairie has much to teach us. During the winter months prairie plants experience an important period of dormancy. With spring will come a rush of new growth, but first the prairie rests, gathering strength, while nature lies in a deep freeze.

What a privilege to be surrounded by the restored Wisdom Prairie lands here at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Restoration of native species provides spaces with unique beauty, a balm for souls and healing and care for the natural environment, especially our precious lakes. Prairie plants, with their deep roots, reduce storm water runoff, recharge ground water and improve the quality of the water that reaches our lakes.

Prairie lands, even in the winter, are good for the soul as well. From the prairie we can learn to experience winter as a time of slowing down and going deeper into an inner landscape to feed our souls and prepare for new life yet to come. As we watch the rhythm of the seasons of the prairie, we can appreciate times of quiet, time for sinking deeper roots, time for interior work, as well as time to put forth new growth and new fruits.

Brenda Lisenby, one of our Benedictine Sojourners, shares her first experiences with the prairie last summer, a vision of the new growth ahead—nature’s response to fallow time.

When I arrived, I was amazed at the variety of flowers in the prairie—purple, white, pink, orange and so many different kinds of yellow! The beauty of the prairie flowers were a part of my morning walk.
Then I noticed more each day with the passing of summer—the sweet, clean smell of the prairie! I hadn’t realized that prairies “smell.” Walking the trails through the tall grass had at first been just a visual delight, but now with the awareness of the scent of the prairie, I experienced the beauty of the prairie more deeply.
Finally, I HEARD the prairie. One day, while collecting rattlesnake master, cinquefoil and echinacea seeds, I walked deep into the grass on the North Prairie. Although I was one of a group of volunteers collecting seed, we had all gone in different directions with our buckets, clippers and gloves. I was alone in the prairie, surrounded by the tall sweet grass. I paused to take in the moment and became aware of the SOUND of the prairie. Crickets! I heard the occasional lone cricket sound nearby, but what I became aware of was the symphony of chirping that was arising from the prairie. It washed over me.
Now I experience the prairie not only with my eyes, but with all my senses. I have learned its scent, its sound and its feel. And I am excited to know that the work of my hands in collecting seed will be used to restore even more prairie.
At this time of the year we are increasingly anxious to see the snow melt and the promise of spring to come, but the days of Lent are a wonderful time to remember the lesson of the prairie: take time to slow down, develop and nurture deep roots, let some issues in your life lie fallow for a time, plant new seeds and prepare for new growth.

This article was orignally printed in the February 2014 issue of Nature’s Pathways. It has been modified slightly for this publication.

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