Book Review: Rooted

by Lyanda Lynn HauptLITTLE, BROWN SPARK
reviewed by Kate Madden Yee
Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit By Lyanda Lynn Haupt

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Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit
By Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Lyanda Lynn Haupt loved being raised Catholic. The mysterious, untamed nature of the faith as she received it—and its ecstatic saints like Thérèse of Lisieux—illuminated the goodness of the created world and taught her “that something can be made sacred by the attention we grant it.”

This turning toward the holy, particularly our physical environment, is what animates her latest book, Rooted: Life at the Crossroads of Science, Nature, and Spirit. Through it, Haupt invites readers to remember that we are embedded in nature, and that deepening this connection helps us make our “awkward way through the essential question of how to live on our broken, imperiled, beloved earth.” And addressing this question is imperative, according to Haupt: “Somehow, in all of this complexity and loss and seeming hopelessness, a response is asked of us, and in this response lies the seed of our own rootedness.”

Rooted doesn’t prescribe how to do this, but rather offers suggestions. In each chapter, Haupt shares current science as well as anecdotes from her own experience as a naturalist, educator, and wilderness explorer to highlight a different way to walk joyfully and with care in the world. Her exhortations may sound simple, but they aren’t necessarily easy. “Listen for the wild summons,” she urges. “Sometimes, go alone. Step into fruitful darkness. Lift up our animal kindred.”

Haupt trusts that as we reorient ourselves towards creation—what she calls “feral cartography”—we begin to better express our particular gifts, or call, that living embedded in the world elicits. This expression of call “has everything to do with broader systemic and ecological change,” she notes, whether your version of listening for the wild summons means painting, writing, nurturing a garden, mourning the loss of a forest, fundraising, or participating in antifracking demonstrations. We may not know “exactly where we are going, or what will happen,” she writes, yet “this is all we have—our life and what we give.”

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