Week 5b: Pondering the Wisdom of the Prairie Grasses

by | Oct 10, 2018

As I was walking around the Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, with my hosts Sally and Jim Longley, Sally was pointing out that some of the lawns were being replaced with Prairie Grass. Sally tells me that the extensive root systems of the prairie grass were far more beneficial in the ecosystem than the manicured lawns that we tend to cultivate. She went to extoll the virtues of the prairie grasses. Most of this grass plant is out of sight, extending some 2-5 meters into the ground. They slow runoff, recharge and filter groundwater, they nourish the soil and increase its organic matter, they reduce erosion, offer resistance to invasive species and they provide a habitat for other organisms. The prairie grasses themselves are resistant to drought and if they cannot find enough water, the plant above the ground will brown and dry off, but the roots system remains alive below the surface.

Note the lawn on the very left of the diagram for comparison.

I thought the prairie grass was a potential metaphor for the spiritual life and the gift of spiritual direction. While this metaphor has some appeal and could be explored in more depth in the north American context, I wondered if their might be an equivalent in the Australian landscape.
And maybe is it not just a metaphor for the spiritual life but also works for the dreams I am cultivating for spiritual accompaniment in the margins.

Dream Big Pillow

Unlike previous posts, the photos at the top of this post one were sourced from the internet.
https://www.almanac.com/content/growing-wildflowers-list-native-plants
https://ofgvc.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/roots-jpg-1600×1011-pixels/

With deep gratitude to those who have offered hospitality over this weekend including Sally and Jim Longley- my friends from Sydney currently studying in Elkhart and the congregation of Prairie St Mennonite Church.

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