Is it your face
that adorns the garden?
Is it your fragrance
that intoxicates this garden? Is it your spirit
that has made this brook
a river of wine?
Hundreds have looked for you and died searching
in this garden
where you hide behind the scenes.
But this pain is not for those who come as lovers.
You are easy to find here. You are in the breeze
and in this river of wine. ~Rumi
I started taking an online gardening course a few weeks ago, and the new learning has inspired an abundance of thoughts on the attributes we share with plants, including an ultra-intelligent design. In their work of supporting other forms of life, including ours, plants breathe, age, make hormones, reproduce, and employ highly developed means for adapting to environmental conditions. The overarching theme here at Micro of the Macro is recognizing our oneness with Nature, and in this post, I want to share a few specific thoughts on the ways in which we imbibe this intelligent design we’re so blessed to inhabit.
In the spring, we had our backyard landscaped. Tiny plants were placed in the soil, so small that I thought they would need a couple years before growing large enough to really add to the aesthetics. Although they are irrigated daily, I didn’t notice much growth until our monsoons started. And even though the rains were light this year, the plants shot up, sometimes inches a day. I’ve never seen anything like it! Nature’s watering system seems to be the preferred moisture of our green, rooted friends.
Unfortunately, we are already dealing with plant-decimating pests. Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants reveals how pests were controlled by Native Americans prior to the advent of pesticides. (Learn a bit more about her beautiful book in this post.) The secret was The Three Sisters: corn, beans, and squash planted together, surrounding other plants; various bugs were attracted to the sisters and attacked each other, leaving the plants to thrive. I don’t believe most modern-day landscapers consider such methods. And the current widespread farming practice of mono-cropping attracts pests for the singular crop planted, making pesticides necessary. (This brings to mind a beautiful documentary I’ve recently watched, called The Biggest Little Farm. If you are a grower, you’ll find its lessons most practical.)
In addition to light, water and protection from pests, plants also need carbon, oxygen, & hydrogen; primary and secondary nutrients like potassium & magnesium; and macro- and micronutrients like nitrogen & iron. It is due in large part to their nutrient requirements that they benefit us internally. The effects on our bodies of eating plants is totally different than eating processed pseudo foods. The reason for that is the huge number of microbes we host. About 99% of our genes are their genes, according to Drs. Justin & Erica Sonnenburg from Stanford University School of Medicine. Most of those microbes reside in our guts and control much of our thoughts on food and, therefore, the possible consequences of obesity and disease. Our microbes flourish on real, unprocessed foods, and when they are happy & healthy, so are we. But when we eat processed foods, the microbiome population is altered adversely, resulting in unhealthy cravings. And I’m sure you, like I, have battled unhealthy cravings at some point! (For more on these ideas, check out my post Little-Know Weight Loss Strategies.)
In our external environment, plants help manage the continuation of life on the planet. Jim Robbins, author of The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees, and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet, writes that plants absorb not only carbon dioxide, but also various other pollutants that might otherwise end up in our lungs. The root system of trees can render harmless toxic wastes, and their trunks and canopies help control the distribution of flooding rain and searing heat. They generate over 100 chemicals that benefit not only their own species, but also animals, including humans. Plants are vital to our existence. Their ongoing destruction in the name of progress is paradoxical and shortsighted. How much more green life can be destroyed before the reduced oxygen supply and increased unabsorbed pollution and carbon affect us directly? Could it be that our bodies, much like our environment, are already struggling from the harmful changes brought about by these practices?
Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature, unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshipping. ~Hubert Reeves, Canadian Astrophysicist
Reading over the paragraphs I’ve written, I can’t help but notice a common thread of human arrogance. What prompted us to decide that human intelligence is superior to that of other life forms? Why did we feel the need to turn away from the old ways, those of honoring and respecting Nature that Native Americans and other indigenous peoples practiced?
The intelligence of all of Nature is astounding, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Keeping in mind our shared design can go a long way in changing paradigms and ensuring our existence for future generations. Our very lives, and those of our children, depend on it.
Blessings for Recognizing Oneness,
The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.