Hands up for those who grow our food. Slow Food Cycle Sunday video series presents Plenty Wild Farms

There’s a word David says in this beautiful eye-candy video that is sitting with me. Wholesome.

I went digging a little, to find the origin of the word. Back in the 1200s, it meant “of benefit to the soul,” from whole (adj.) in the “healthy” sense + -some (1).

I love this. I love this because, if you take “soul” out of it, it’s just about being good for you, and that smacks, to me, of being preached at. But what my soul craves is not a preacher laying on the platitudes, ironically, but some kind of magic, mystery, deeper connection, energy, wonder…

There is another word I encountered a while ago from the British writer Paul Kingsworth. He writes about our need to return a sense of the sacred to the world. First, he explains that he is not religious and he’s not meaning this in a religious way.

“‘Sacred’, like ‘spiritual’, is one of those words whose meaning is easier to understand intuitively than to explain when challenged. My Oxford English Dictionary gives me a number of definitions, every one of them connected with religion. This isn’t quite right. It’s true that if you hack away from any system of religious or spiritual practice the excrescences formed by thousands of years of human idiocy, literalism and power play, you should find at its centre a tiny, delicate thing: a sacred thing. The thing that these institutions originally arose to try and touch, encircle or explain. But religions do not own the sacred; they only offer their own way of trying to approach it.

The original Latin word sacrare meant ‘to make holy’ or ‘to set apart’. The ‘sacrum’ of a temple is a holy place, which most people are not permitted to approach. Within this holy place is supposed to reside some essence of God, or of the divine. The word ‘holy’, which originates in the Old English word halig, has the same derivation as ‘whole’ and ‘health’; it speaks of something complete, entire and unsullied.

If you’re not lost in the gnarly word forest yet, this is the crumb that helped me find my way: the word holy/halig is the same as whole and healthy.

I have been thinking of this, in relation to our world, to this blue planet of ours, to the destruction and danger its in, to the marvels and magic it is full of. I think, it’s not whole, balanced, healthy. The work of our times might be to help return it to a state of wholeness, of balance, of health. To make it holy again.

As the poet Wendell Berry said:

There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.

The “desecrated” ones, are the places that have been trashed, damaged, destroyed, harmed.

But maybe our attention, as humans, and our labours – our words, our thoughts, our actions – can reconsecrate places. Maybe we can return them to balance, by seeing them differently… not as pieces to serve us or resources to extract, but as part of the wholeness, of which we are part, as part of our own health, as sacred and deserving to be recognized as such.

Wholesome is good for the soul. It’s a bike ride, a breath of fresh air, pulling carrots from the soil, sitting by the river and watching it go by. I think it’s singing and dancing and drumming and ceremony.

Loving this series – thanks Tourism Pemberton for such a creative initiative, and for the reminder of part of what I cherish about living here.

If we feel “blessed” to be here, could we not return the favour, as simply as this: by offering a blessing on something or someone or some place, in return? Bless the little salmonid I saw this morning in the creek. Bless the great cedar. Bless the elders of this land, past, present and future. Bless the farmers. Bless my neighbours.

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