Braiding Sweetgrass

By Robin Wall Kimmerer

I’m a person of great enthusiasms although I’ve learned that they seldom are communicable. When our hearts are moved and our minds and emotions are dragged along for the ride life becomes illuminated. Recently an acquaintance gave me a book with a powerful endorsement. It was one of those rare books that she had read and will read again many times. What are the chances that her enthusiasm would fire my entire being? Not very and yet… Her gift was one of those events of perfection.

Braiding Sweetgrass is the best book I’ve ever read. I was perfectly poised to inhale the heart, mind and soul that Robin Wall Kimmerer breathed into each chapter. Each stands alone as a eloquently crafted essay/story. She weaves the experiential wisdom of her ancestral elders, her scientific community and the love of a mother who raised her family, stories from a naturalist’s life and exquisite philosophical ruminations. All these tales are captured in parentheses of a deep and reverent love of the earth.

I’ve learned, in greater depth than ever before, to appreciate the wisdom of those who live closer to the earth than I. For the first time I was able to feel the creation story of Skywoman and the real ethical messages that it imparts. I learned more about the synergy found in nature from ancestral wisdom than from the scientific perspective but was gratified to see parts of the scientific world heading in a heartful direction.

As I approached the end of the book I realized that a additional small tendril of umbilicus had been created between my heart and the earth. We live on a world that is in dire need of our love. That begins with the recognition that She is a living being upon whom we are dependent and with whom we can learn the nurturing qualities of our interdependence. That is the essence of the ancestral wisdom. How we go about that task will be discovered in scientific pursuit for some and practiced with elder guidance by others. It is one of the great challenges of our time and not yet recognized by most whose worlds are anchored in the market-place consciousness.

This is the best book I’ve ever read. That is the level of appreciation I have for Robin Wall Kimmerer’s creation. It will be a difficult benchmark for some future author to eclipse for I will once more have to be perfectly poised to have my heart opened to inhale their particular wisdom. I look forward to that day and the next 'best book I've ever read.'