I am excited to officially begin my journey on a study of herbalism. Today I got my first course in the mail from the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism. As you can imagine, I’ve already started to thumb through the course, and it seems to be a perfect fit for me. I can’t wait to dive in.
It’s funny how discussing herbalism with people brings so many mixed reactions. Some are excited to hear more, most are hesitant and think “quackery,” and still others simply wonder if I’m turning into an offbeat hippy. 😉 Over the past few years, the paths that have led me to this road seemed so scattered, but looking back, the way is clear. I’ll save that story for another time though. Today I want to take a look forward and share with you my heart of herbalism, where I’m going, and why it matters to me.
In the beginning, God created a world, a beautiful world filled with animals and air and sunlight and beauty and . . .plants. Plants were not the center of life, but they were put here for us . . . to see, to smell, to tend, to eat, and to enjoy. I LOVE being outside in God’s creation. I feel like it brings me closer to Him, and gives me a better understanding of who He is. Herbalism gives me an opportunity to study the world at a greater depth. I can grow, harvest, and get close and personal to the very things God created. I see their beauty in a whole new way. I can also learn many lessons. For example, the humble dandilion, can feed me or prevent indigestion. It’s flowers can make a salad cheery and that’s only the beginning. This common weed that is so easily discarded has a purpose in God’s plan. If that’s true of a dandilion, I know He must have a plan for me as well.
Herbalism helps me slow down and really truly smell the roses. It helps me take time to enjoy these small blessings so easily overlooked. And, I can’t help but wonder if in his omnipotence, knowing sin would enter this world, God gave us plants as a way to nourish our hurting and dying bodies. Herbalism has helped me to see each flower, grass, tree or weed as a little love note from God; and more than anything, I long to know Him more.
I want to be clear that I am not studying herbalism as an outlash against modern medicine. I believe that modern medicine is a wonderful blessing, and through it God has brought healing in ways we never thought possible. However I don’t want to lose some of the simple remedies we have right at our finger tips that cost little to nothing and can be very effective. How cool would it be to be on a camping trip and know what plants to grab to soothe a bee sting, relieve the itch of poison ivy, or calm an upset stomach? How awesome is it to be able to pick a few leaves from my garden and make a tea to leassen the discomforts of a cold? This prospect is very exciting to me. This kind of healing is almost a lost art. I want to find it.
I don’t know where God is leading, but at this time there is a burden on my heart for those who have little or no access to medical care. Maybe it’s the cost, maybe circumstances like distance or community strife, natural disasters or more. What if every home, orphanage, homeless shelter, or community could grow or even identify just a few herbs. Maybe only even five. What if those herbs could help clear up pink eye, heal a wound, fight a viral or bacterial infection, reduce a fever, soothe a headache, calm an upset stomach, combat insomnia and more? How empowering! How encouraging! And to know that God gave us plants, right at our fingertips, that do just that . . . He must really love us.
I am not studying herbalism to be a doctor or a nurse or a medical practitioner. That takes years of school, training, dedication and service and I tip my hat off to the men and women who have made such a commitment to heal the hurts and sicknesses on this earth. I mearly want to give hope. Hope that one mother can soothe her baby’s upset tummy, hope that comes from recognizing the beauty all around us, and hope in a Savior who loves us enough to strew the soil with more love notes than we could read in a lifetime.
So there you have it. My whys for studying herbalism. I’m sure this road has many twists and turns, and I’m eager to see where I end up when the journey is over.