Rooted coverRooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit
Lyanda Lynn Haupt
Little, Brown Spark (May 4, 2021), 241 pages
Kindle edition $13.99, Amazon paperback $17.99

The subtitle of Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s book is a bit misleading, in that Rooted doesn’t really contain a lot of science. There is plenty of nature and spirit here, however. The book is reminiscent of the work of Loren Eiseley or Annie Dillard’s early masterpiece, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, with a good dose of medieval Christian mysticism thrown in.

Haupt writes about hope. She says that a Benedictine definition of hope is “that virtue by which we take responsibility for the future,” which imbues our actions with a “special urgency.”

Where Haupt does engage in science is where she discusses how science has proven that spending time in nature improves our physical health in measurable ways. She discusses what she calls forest baths, the practice of mindfully spending time in nature. And she invokes Carl Sagan who kept reminding us that “we are star stuff.” You may remember Sagan intoning those words if you watched the original PBS Cosmos series in the eighties. Haupt quotes Dr. Ashley King, a meteorite researcher at the Natural History Museum, who validates that sentiment. King says, “It is totally 100 percent true: nearly all the elements in the human body were made in a star and many have come through several supernovas.”

Haupt does not hide her anger about human offenses against nature. She fumes about a deer that was killed by an inept archer on a nature preserve located on land owned by the University of Washington, where hunting is prohibited. She writes about orca whales separated from their pods and taken to aquariums where most of them did not live long. Haupt is furious with her city government’s plan for destroying a starling nest and rescues one of the birds which becomes a loved household pet (about which she wrote an earlier book).

The author describes how, as a child, she discovered a pond near her house which frogs inhabited. She learned the frogs would sit with her if she was quiet and moved slowly. She called this her frog church and, being raised Catholic, felt the need at confession to tell the priest that she had another church.

Haupt embraces the Christian mystical tradition. Without mentioning St. Francis by name she refers to the animals of the natural world as brother and sister. In the beginning of the book she lists the medieval Christian mystic Hildegard of Bingen as one of her mentors. And throughout she quotes another medieval woman mystic, Julian of Norwich.

So, yes, in Rooted you will find a lot of nature and spirit with just enough science to tie it all together.

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