With the goal of sharing ideas and inspiring change, Green Renaissance produces gorgeous short films that uplift the personal stories of ordinary people. Every two weeks over the coming months, we’ll feature one of the stories that filmmakers Michael and Justine so beautifully capture and that illustrate gratefulness through the ordinary revealed as extraordinary. In the short film that follows Oom Johannes shares his story.
Oom (uncle) Johannes is known by many names: herb doctor, healer, story teller, and teacher. Although he is already 95 years old, he still dedicates his time and energy to walking the lands near his home in search of healing herbs. For Johannes, nature is medicine to the soul and can be used in many ways to aid healing.
This film features Oom Johannes and was filmed in the Karoo, near Beaufort West, South Africa.
Learn more about Green Renaissance through our Grateful Changemaker feature.*
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What feelings/thoughts/questions surface for you in viewing Oom Johannes’s story?
How does Oom Johannes’s story move you?
We invite you to share your reflections below the video transcript that follows.
*We are transitioning the format of our Grateful Changemakers series in an effort to deepen the ways in which we “celebrate programs and projects that serve as beacons of gratefulness.” Our film series partnership with Green Renaissance represents one such possibility. Stay tuned for more!
“I’ve walked this road for many years. I am now 95 years old. I still keep walking on. It’s not very quickly, but I carry on…as long as I can. Tomorrow morning, about 3 or 4 am, I get up. I light the fire and put my pot on the coals and I start to work with my herbs. Then you drink the herbs. It’s so wonderful when you drink it fresh. Your mouth waters because you’re drinking directly from nature.
I work with the herbs, that’s what I do. Herbs are the secret. They are a breath of fresh air for your body. They can almost cleanse your heart, that’s how well they work. And you take a small piece and chew it. You can feel nature working through your entire body. I can feel it. It rejuvenates my body. It takes away any pains. Thrive like the plant that you are drinking. When you drink it you must say, I want to blossom like you do, in that arid soil. Before you know it, you feel like you can jump higher than a windmill. It makes you feel like a young man of 15 years.
I have such a love for nature because I know that’s where my life is. When I walk in nature, I feel like I am in church. I work with the earth. I say thank you to each plant that I pick. And I work gently with the plants just as I treat my own body. We cannot live without nature. If we don’t have nature, we cease to live. We have to work in a way that sustains nature so that you may grow in that space.
Mankind, we are stubborn. We are strange. It saddens me. I want people to understand what I have to say. We say such mean things to each other. We have no patience with each other. We hate each other. We argue with each other. We ruin relationships. And that’s not how we should behave.
When you walk out in nature, nature doesn’t say, “Stay away from me.” It says, “Come my child, I am here.” That’s how we should live our lives. You never hear the birds shouting at each other. They are always cheerful. When you wake up in the morning, you hear the birds singing, “We have another day, another day, another day.”
You need to keep the peace because if you don’t have peace, what kind of life do you have? That is not living. I always want to have peace. Contentment, that is peace. Then every day is like Christmas.”
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He emits so much peace and joy. Grateful for his sharing with us and reminding me how much the plants teach us.
“I say thank you to each plant.” I find myself feeling the most gratitude every time I walk among the nonhuman world and thanking every tree for being.
“Contentment, that is peace.” This is very meaningful to me at this time in my life. I recently retired and worry that I am not doing enough. But when I truly check in with myself, the feeling I have is one of contentment. Thank you for this wonderful story today.
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