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  • Writer's pictureHilda Van Netten

Dance for the Renewal of the World

Sometimes the universe conspires to make life extra wonderful. I have my own personal name for that universe. God.

I started drawing this image on November 25. But, we need to back to October for the beginning of this story. On October 23 I walked around the paths in our little woods to see what was happening there. A walkabout in the garden.

Mushrooms everywhere!

The next day, I wanted to see how the mushrooms were doing and.... there were even more varieties! It was like I'd been given a gift of beautifulness.

It just so happened that my regular Monday art class was happening that day, so I took some of my students on a backyard tour of the mushroom beauty before class. One of them said that I should put them in a bowl on the grass and paint them. (She knows how I love to paint things in containers on the grass.) I didn't have any different bowls and didn't want to use the same bowls as in previous paintings. Next best thing to a bowl on the grass? A stump covered with moss. So, what you see below is my reference photo.

My idea of heaven on earth is to be walking in a bog.

Now, here's thread number two. Way back in the spring, a friend who knows my heart, suggested I read Robin Wall Kimmerer's book Braiding Sweetgrass. She thought I might resonate with the author's words and mind. I ordered it for my Kobo and was hundreds back on the waiting list. My turn finally came mid-way through this painting. So, I got to read her words and paint what she talks about at the same time. What a timing!

Here's a synopsis of that book: As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert).

I think the painting is done.

Here it is. Dance for the Renewal of the World

It is not for sale.

It would feel like selling a child.

And, I'll end the same way Robin Wall Kimmerer ended:

“The moral covenant of reciprocity calls us to honor our responsibilities
for all we have been given,
for all that we have taken.
It’s our turn now, long overdue.
Let us hold a giveaway for Mother Earth,
spread our blankets out for her and pile them high with gifts of our own making.
Imagine the books,
the paintings,
the poems,
the clever machines,
the compassionate acts,
the transcendent ideas,
the perfect tools.
The fierce defense of all that has been given.
Gifts of mind, hands, heart, voice, and vision
all offered up on behalf of the earth.
Whatever our gift,
we are called to give it and to dance for the renewal of the world.
In return for the privilege of breath.”

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