Courting the Land

Jan 8 / Simon Shadowlight
For this practice, I am inviting you to enter into a mindful, intentional, committed relationship with a section of land for a period of one year.

Let me first suggest some specific guidelines (but remember, in the spirit of Captain Hector Barbosa, these are guidelines, not rules):

  • A section of land – this can be any outdoor space in which you experience “nature.” Ideally, it is a space that you have easy access to and, perhaps, have “rights” to. In other words, you have the right to interact with it in whatever way speaks to you (more on that below). The suggestion is that you interact (even if only visiting or witnessing) with it frequently, ideally every day if possible. In that sense, it may be easiest if it is connected with where you live, i.e., part of your front or back yard. It could be a vegetable garden, a flower bed, or perhaps some part of your yard which has hither to been neglected. If you live in a place without any natural space that is “yours,” perhaps there is an area nearby that will work.

  • A period of one year – the time frame is up to you… whatever you are willing to commit to. A year offers the chance to be with and care for this land for a full cycle of seasons.
  • Mindful, intentional, committed relationship – we could talk about this piece for a long time, far longer than this article will allow. In essence, I’m inviting you to take an interest in and even care for this land. If it’s a garden, then the way to go about that may be obvious. A garden typically demands a great deal of care and effort depending on the outcome desired. But what about in the winter, when the garden is dormant? Do you just forget about it? Or what if gardening isn’t your thing? Or perhaps you select an area that isn’t yours to interact with in that active of a manner. Perhaps your relationship is not that of cultivator or caretaker. Perhaps you are simply a witness or a companion (does that sound strange… to be a companion to the land?) How you define your relationship is up to you and you may discover that it evolves over time. That is part of the exercise.
  • By “committed” I am suggesting that you decide how and how often you will interact with this land and then stick to it. Do not be casual about this part. Relationships require commitment and dependability. Perhaps you are one who feels the subtle energies of non-corporal beings in which case you can consider this a commitment to them; perhaps you see the land as alive and this idea of “relationship” is not so “material” to you; perhaps you understand that this land is merely another expression of the Beloved and thus your commitment to the land is really an extension of your connection with that higher power. All of this is for you to discover but keep your integrity intact. Commit to what you intend.


Once you have your section of land, begin by visiting it regularly (again, I’m suggesting daily if that works for you). Meditate there. Speak to it. Ask if it wants anything of you (weird, I know). Pick up any trash. Determine if your relationship is simply that of guest and witness, or if more active involvement is appropriate. Perhaps you are called to modify the land in some way (see my story that follows). There is no specific right or wrong way to go about this other than to care for, take an interest in, and be present with this land for a period of time.

Peaseblossom Haven

Back in July of 2020 I caught an idea. Or perhaps it caught me. It’s difficult to distinguish these sorts of things. Our front yard contained a patch of problematic grass (i.e., sod) surrounded by flower beds that we have cultivated for years. The grass was languishing and was simply time to go. In its place I felt called to make a space for a garden of medicinal and culinary herbs and such. After much meditation and prayer and listening, the idea for Peaseblossom Haven was cultivated. I wrote this at the time:

Peaseblossom Haven: a home for faie folk, the hidden ones, the garden-tenders, the blessing-givers; pixies, sprites, elves, nymphs, devas, dryads, gnomes, leprechauns, seelie, and angels (fallen and otherwise).

I know… weird. So, we removed the grass and sowed the bare soil with clover and vetch to both serve as a blanket and to nurture the infamous Colorado clay soil. As the ground cover grew, it became a true haven for deer and rabbits and all sorts of pollinators. And the winter came and the ground cover protected the soil while it slept through the winter.
Into the summer of 2021, the ground cover grew and replenished the soil. And at some point, I knew it was time to begin the garden. We tilled the clover into the soil and I moved the soil around and put in retaining walls and added a path. Not because any of this was needed but because it was called for. The path goes nowhere… we have no need for it. But I built it because it felt correct and it was an opportunity to make something beautiful. It was an opportunity to interact with and care for that bit of ground that had felt neglected for so long. I gave that land my time and attention in the spirit—not of improving it—but of caring for and loving it. That path was my gift to that space (not getting any less weird, is it).

Towards the end of the summer, I started planting some things, mostly culinary herbs. I love going into that space and using the herbs for dinner. It deepens the relationship. And, yes, I always remember to give thanks for the gift back. That’s part of this exercise: to cultivate awareness and gratitude for the ever-present interdependence and relationship.

And now, during the winter and under the snow of our first significant frozen moisture, I walk past it everyday but I have not forgotten it. It’s not merely out of mind until I can "use" the space again. I watch it. I listen to it. I witness who comes to visit; who leaves tracks in the snow; what is still growing and what looks like it may have reached the end of its life. I treat it as a sacred space (because it is) and I give it my time and my attention and my care… even though I “have no practical use for it” right now. Every relationship goes through its seasons. This relationship is no different.
I’ll leave it at that for now. I hope you are called to join in this polishing the lamp exercise. If you have any questions, join our monthly Sacred Earth meeting or reach out to me at sshadowlight@milehichurch.org.

May your world be enriched by your relationship with and commitment to the non-human.

Peace and blessings,
Rev. Simon