Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit
By Lyanda Lynn Haupt
(229 pages, nonfiction, 2021)
In many ways, this book is spiritual kin to the works of Rachel Carson, Robin Wall Kimmerer, and Henry David Thoreau. Naturalist Lyanda Lynn Haupt, a self-described “tree-hugging dirt worshiper,” has chosen to share her eco-based philosophy at just the right time. For those of us who are feeling run down, burned out, and disconnected by the pace and structure of our industrialized world, Haupt suggests that the antidote is cultivating rootedness. She’s written this book to teach us how.
Haupt’s rootedness revolves around recognizing and respecting the interconnectedness of life on earth. As she details in the introduction, “Rooted lives are radically intertwined with the vitality of the planet … Our bodies, our thoughts, our minds, our spirits are affected by the whole of the earthen community, and affect this whole in return.” Rootedness is a spiritual idea, but not a religious practice, per se. In outlining her philosophy, Haupt draws on the wisdom of ancient and modern sources from all over the globe, including the work of Buddhist monks, Catholic clerics, indigenous shamans, poets, and evidence-based scientific inquiries. The purpose of rootedness is not to compete with either religion or science, but to respect both by developing a deeper earth-centered awareness. Haupt suggests that we might we learn to blur the imaginary lines between our bodies, minds, and souls — and that a long walk in the woods can nurture all these various aspects of our selves.
The chapters of this book break down Haupt’s concept of rootedness into several simple how-to lessons for the reader. These include: listen for the wild summons; go barefoot; walk a new way (let yourself wander); decommodify the forest; sometimes, go alone; step into the fruitful darkness (literally, embrace the dark of night); lift up our animal kindred; speak in truth; go to the trees; contribute your verse (use your unique creative gifts to support a healthier planet); and return, return, return. The format in which the book is organized makes it very easy to digest these lessons. Also, there are beautiful illustrations! Each chapter opens with lovely, whimsical black-and-white drawings of the flora and fauna that Haupt sees as our friends and neighbors.
This book is quick to read, but not shallow. Along with Braiding Sweetgrass and Underland, it has earned a spot as one of my favorite eco-reads this year. I finished reading this work on a Friday, then spent most of the following weekend hiking in the forest and tromping along trails in the Merrimack River basin. Throughout, I kept Haupt’s ideas at the forefront of my mind and spirit. The plants, animals, and minerals with which we share this one, precious planet have no choice but to sustain us. Isn’t it time we offer a measure of respect and reverence in return?
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Faithe Miller Lakowicz