where we touch earth

Healthy feet of an 11-year-old girl who regula...

I’ve been musing lately over the relationship between our treatment of our bodies and our treatment of the earth. For many of us, our bodies are the only animal we have close contact with each day; they become our exposure to the natural world, the  only wild landscape we inhabit.

Yet think of our bodies:  we work them, groom them, put chemicals on them; we sanitize them, remove some parts, and inject foreign substances into others.  If we take the time to think of them, it is with frustration or dislike.

If there is a locus point for this analogy, it is the soles of the feet–where we touch earth.  I love the biblical story of Martha and Mary.  As Martha bustled around, righteously busy, Mary ignored what I imagine was a lot of passive-aggressive sighing and carrying on, and focused on sensuously bathing Jesus’s feet.  When Martha complained, Jesus stuck up for Mary, essentially stating “she’s got her priorities straight!”

When we really think about it, where has all of our righteous busy work gotten us? Would we not be better served to slow down and bathe the feet of those we love, tend the places of connection, honor the hard work of these bodies, these landscapes?

I’ve been building gardens lately, spreading compost and decomposed leaves and layering bark into pathways.  I take great pleasure in doing this work barefoot, the warming soil of spring beneath my feet.  At the end of the day it is hard to tell where the earth ends and my feet begin.  Last night, after dancing contra barefoot, I returned home and set the water on to boil.  I scooped a little sea salt and honey into an empty lemon peel, then used the peel to carefully scrub the soles of my feet.  When the water boiled I poured it into a mason jar filled with fresh rosemary, let it steep, then added it to a basin of warm water and slipped my salt-and-honey-coated feet in.  I sat there for several minutes, letting the rosemary tea work its magic, feeling so grateful.  For everything.


This is a recipe I have used with great effect in my workshops; tending people’s feet tends to bring them right into a state of receptive openness for whatever comes next.  To tend your feet or those of a loved one, here’s what you’ll need:

-Mason jar filled with fresh rosemary, lavender, calendula, or rose petals (dried is fine; you’ll need about 1/2 cup)

-Boiling water

Pour the water over your herbs and leave to steep for several minutes. Strain, and add this strong tea to a basin of warm water.  Add a tablespoon or so of baking soda for especially tough callouses, and a few drops of essential oil if you like (rosemary and lavender are both wonderful.)  Have a towel ready near the basin.

-empty half of a citrus peel

-2 tbsp. dead sea salts

-1 tbsp. raw honey

Place the honey and salt in the cup of the peel; use it as a washcloth to gently exfoliate the skin of your feet over the basin of tea.  Place your feet in the basin and continue to wash them with the citrus peel.  Relax.



April 8, 2013 · 2:20 am

10 responses to “where we touch earth

  1. This sounds so nurturing for the feet. Thank you for sharing this, I’m really excited about trying it on mine. 🙂

  2. I would have to agree, though im guilty of not caring for myself also. When my feet are clean, and ive given myself a pedicure, even polish, i tend to work my way up. Im not feeling so great about myself physically at the moment and guess what – my feet are a mess. Time for some me time. Thanks for the prompt and the recipe.

  3. Lissa dear one. I read these posts and feel my insides relax. I feel a loosening and softening in my mind (god forbid of my mind! but there’s probably that going on too 🙂 ) Your writing helps me be grounded and flexible and open. And the wildest part is that you have helped me see that these are not qualities I achieve by bashing out the parts of me that I used to judge ill, but by matter of factly (which proves to be gentle and easy too) just accepting. How could I judge the chemistry of me any more than I do the robins that are starting to hammer away at teh grass, or these doe that just meandered by my window?
    love you,

  4. This is beautiful. I did a post on this topic here (“Touching the Earth”): http://integralpermaculture.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/touching-the-earth/

    My post was inspired by “Why Lying in the Earth Is Good For You” here:

  5. A gorgeous post about how we really need to appreciate our outside meaty bits as much as we tend our mental, physical and spiritual parts. The sheer gratefulness in caring for what we have been giving physically and tending it with love and consideration is something that we have been taught is selfishness. Loving the skin we are in is anything but :).

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