Bless this land to which we’re bound
By gravity of joyful sound
Feed the hearth and feed the herd
Hope must stand on every word
-Emily Scott Robinson “Men and Moons”
This song lyric spoke to me as it closed out the concert I attended last Friday. Emily Scott Robinson wrote the song “Men and Moons” as an epilogue to Macbeth, where the women in the story speak to reality that as the seasons come, so does more war, heartbreak, and pain, but also, hope. I think the reality of being bound to the land is something we often forget about in rural communities.
Sure people could leave, but it’s not just gravity that binds us to the land we love. Our sense of being and existence is connected to place. So, to ask God to bless this land is to ask God to bless us, not just me, but everyone in this land. All too often theological language is escapist or journey oriented. Whether to heaven, to new opportunities, or to new realities that don’t take into consideration the connections to space.
Both evangelical theology and progressive liberative theology tend to downplay place, even the post-millenials. There is a twinkle of it in John Wesley and in the feminist/womanist writers like bell hooks. But what I think we need is a language of salvation and hope that says it’s not just about me, it is about here.
I know many people who are spiritually connected to the land they have known their entire life. So language of journey and pilgrimage often feel as if they must abandon their place for places untold. We need richer theological language that involves something more than tired agricultural language, but that roots itself in this language. Something more than “making do” or “getting by.” A language that doesn’t romanticize or stigmatize place, but lifts it up as home and as the future.
For me, it feels like a reclaiming of some language is needed, but I can’t put my finger on it.
Until I can, let these lyrics be our prayer.
2 thoughts on “Bless this Land”
But have you read Braided Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer yet?
Her book helped to shape some of the ways that I’m thinking about the theology of place these days.
Not, but it’s on my list.