"You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin." Chief Seattle
"Our tears moisten the soil of our common humanity germinating seeds of compassion and mercy that will blossom into healing the collective suffering of us all" Dedan Gills
We celebrated the first born child to Coumba Toure and Tidiane Oumar Ba by planting an endangered tree of the South Eastern United States, the long leaf pine. We gave praise to his arrival by singing out his name. We also gave solemn thanks to the many ancestors that contributed their dreams, their lives, and their remains to the richness and joy of this momentous occasion.
As African, African-American and Euro-American together, gently patted the last handfuls of dirt around the base of the long leaf pine sapling, I knew that this soil would bring life-giving nutrients to this young tree. I also was keenly aware that this fertile soil was enriched with the blood, the bone, the sweat and the tears of so many. The Choctaw and The Cherokee were here; the remains of the enslaved and the enslavers were here. I also knew that this former Confederate out-post was drenched in the blood and tears of both Confederate and Union soldiers, the haters and the hated were all here intermingled together in the fertile womb of this life giving earth.
All of these lives in countless and unheralded ways had been sacrificed to the mystery of this rich, black Tennessee soil, although separated in life they were now united giving sustenance to our little tree. In the silence of our humble ceremony we all somehow knew in our hearts that as our young tree spread its roots deep into the soil and stretched its branches towards the sky it would “breath” fresh air into our toxic atmosphere while sequestering the lethal carbon that robs the future of our grandchildren. We also knew in it’s own small way that it would help to heal the planet and the descendants of all of our ancestors together as it spread its leaves into the hope of a sustainable and a just future for the family of all the living. This little ceremony of celebrating the future and honoring the past while healing its wounds in the present was in microcosm the dream and vision of Growing A Global Heart.