With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it’s a wonderful time to reflect and offer gratitude to the plant kingdom that nourishes, revitalizes, and sustains us.
In today’s blog post, you’ll read about:
- The ways that the plant kingdom serves as the foundation for countless aspects of modern life
- How nature sustains us physically, nourishes us emotionally, and enriches us spiritually
- How nature connects all of humanity
- How to develop a relationship of reverence and respect for nature through cultivating gratitude
With a chill in the air that nips at the nose and with the crunch of leaves underfoot, Thanksgiving is around the corner.
As winter stretches and yawns before us, the daylight hours dwindle and the night grows longer. With the gentle rustling of the leaves and the impending chill that arrives with the changing seasons, it’s a beautiful time to warm yourself in the respite of gratitude.
There’s something about the tenderness of the cold, quiet evenings that stretch before us as an open road at night. They invite you to settle down and settle in, making it easier to take stock and notice the things you feel grateful for in life.
When I count my blessings, friends, family, community, and health come to mind. However, I can’t help but reflect on the vastness of the plant kingdom and the numerous ways it impacts my life as an herbalist and nature enthusiast. The more I reflect on my gratitude for plants, the more I see the ways it extends itself into nearly every single aspect of life.
The Bedrock of All Blessing
The plant kingdom provides us with everything we need. From the air that we breathe to the clothing we wear, the food we eat, and the homes we find shelter in, it’s impossible to think of an area in life where nature does not provide, or at the very least, enhance.
Beginning with the breath, there’s a reciprocity in the respiration that occurs between humans and the plant kingdom. Plants generate and emit oxygen, which we inhale deeply and exhale, returning to the plants in the form of carbon dioxide.
This dance continues infinitely, allowing us to experience the sway of the trees and the plants that surround us in our very lungs.
Plants serve as the foundation for all nourishment. Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, a meat-eater, or anything in between, you are either eating plants, products made from plants, or animals that were nourished and grew from eating plants.
In terms of hydration, regardless if your water is from a spring, a well, or purified at home, water assists in eliminating toxins, moistening your tissues, and keeping your body healthy. Whether you’re drinking a hot cup of tea, taking a warm bath, feeling the rain fall upon your hand, or jumping into a cool lake, water revives us in heart, mind, body, and spirit.
There are countless materials used to build your home that derive from nature. If your home features wood, stone, or clay adornments, these natural elements provide you with shelter.
A Practice of Gratitude
If you have an herbalism practice, you know what it feels like to learn about an herb, to step into the field, gather the plant that calls your name, and to use it in your herbal medicine.
Alternatively, if your approach to herbalism is one that involves poring over books instead of picking plants, you might choose to use pre-dried herbs in your home practice so that you have more time to devise remedies for your loved ones.
In either situation, the common denominator is the same: A deep reverence, love, and appreciation for the healing power of nature and plants.
At the end of a long day, lay your tinctures or notebook aside, curl up with a hot cup of tea, and reconnect with a sense of gratitude for the herbs you spend so much time thinking about.
Look at the herb, smell its scent, drink the infusion in your favorite mug, and watch as the steam wafts above the cup. I assure you that it won’t take long before you feel a sense of wonder and gratitude grow in your heart.
Working with plants is humbling. It cleanses the mind, softens the heart, renews the spirit, and heals the body. There is so much gratitude to be had for this experience.
Gifts From Nature
Aside from the medicinal properties and functionality that nature supplies us with, such as food, water, and shelter, there are many other undeniable yet easily overlooked aspects of nature that nourish the heart and enliven the spirit.
Although some might consider beauty a frivolous matter, I think nature teaches us that it is anything but. Beauty fills the heart with wonder and the mind with hope.
Whether you’re placing a bright flower in a vase near your bedside, hanging herbs to dry, or using naturally dyed fabrics in your home, nature is a gateway to the utmost beauty, the kind that has you stopping in your tracks and reflecting on the incredible wonder of the world.
If you ever feel down and unable to look up, try walking through a field of flowers, having a stroll through the forest, or looking at the mountainous view after completing a hike. There’s nothing like nature to dispel despondency and to uplift a low mood.
Nature reminds us to slow down. With the fast-paced world we live in, it can feel easy to run out of breath trying to keep up with the news, politics, trends, and anything else that demands mental space and attention.
With its natural cycles and rhythms, nature recalibrates and centers us. Whether it’s through the changing of the seasons that delight your senses with different scents and sights or taking a deliberate pause to celebrate the new moon with a ritual bath, nature is grounding and encourages us to literally “slow down and smell the flowers.”
Nature provides us with a joy that’s incomparable to the manufactured.
There’s a simple kind of happiness that arrives with picking fresh herbs, stirring your spoon into a mug of tea, or burning incense.
These small rituals help us feel connected to a quieter time and can become anchors of joy and presence amidst a busy day.
Whether it’s burning a beeswax candle, placing a vase of flowers onto your table, or diffusing essential oils, nature uplifts your home and transforms it into a sanctuary that soothes the mind and comforts the spirit.
The Hand That Feeds Us
Regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, and upbringing, nature is the element that unites us all.
We all gaze at the sky, swim in the water, feel the wind against our cheek, and feel the rain fall upon us. We share an inherent connection through our experience of nature.
Developing a sense of gratitude does more than benefit mental health; it helps us see how dependent we are on the natural world and how we must act as guardians to protect the plant kingdom. When we feel so connected with nature, it becomes clear that harming nature is like biting the hand that feeds us.
From the silvery mycelium beneath the trees, running a web of communication throughout the forest, to the soft cotton blanket you throw over yourself on a cold day, nature finds its way into every aspect of our life.
Nature smiles at us through the swaying of the tree branches, the wind whistling, and the vibrant flowers that pop up during spring.
There is wonder to be found in all of nature, and all it takes is a moment’s breath to pause and take it in.
When reflecting on what you feel grateful for this year, consider which plants have touched your heart and what lessons you’ve learned from the process of working with them. May you always feel nature’s smile and feel her blessings like the countless seeds of the Dandelion flower.