To wonder at beauty,
Stand guard over truth,
Look up to the noble,
Resolve on the good.
Lead us in our journey
To purpose in living,
To right in our doing,
To peace in our feeling,
To light in our thinking.
And teaches us trust,
In the working of God,
In all that there is,
In the width of the world,
In the depth of the soul
After a couple of dry weeks, just when we were drilling a new well to help us sustain the garden, the rain arrived. They say that if you want it to rain all you need to do is leave your umbrella at home. The garden responded so intensely to the forces of warmth and water. Plants and weeds are growing fast and strong, flowers bloom and small green tomatoes hang from the bushes.
In the last weeks we spent long days transplanting all the thousands of seedlings that grew in the greenhouse during the spring. Creating clean, welcoming beds for the seedlings was a major task and keeping the beds clean from weeds after transplanting proved to be a challenge. We now start each day with a couple of hours of weeding, followed by other tasks such as transplanting, harvesting, stripping dried herbs from stems and creating new products.
Most people regard weeding as an unwanted chore but if the weather is just right, sitting between the plants and weeding is a great task. Weeding allows some quiet time with oneself, the plants, worms and other living beings in the garden. Weeding is a task that has a very clear and simple purpose. It's purpose is to eliminate any competition between the plants that you planted and weeds for resources of water, light, space and nourishment from the soil.
Life in modern culture has become so fragmented and complicated that grasping the purpose and meaning behind it has become an elusive challenge. When you sit day after day between the plants and see the living organism working within the soil, when you lift your face to the sky and watch the birds glide on the wind, you begin to experience the garden as a large blanket woven of many threads. You, the gardener `are one of those threads. You get to let go of the image of yourself that you have created and see that you are not the weaver or creator of the garden but part of it. The garden cannot exist without you but nor could it exist without all the other living beings that share it with you.
This feeling of being connected, of being part of something much larger than our individual life and death is very elusive in every day life for people that live in an apartment building and work in an office. But it is an everyday experience for the farmer as the following story can demonstrate. One day I was making potting soil with our daughter Shira (13). Shira does not like worms so each time that she saw one she would make a face and stop working. I told her she needs to befriend the worm as now they are turning food scrapes into compost that will nourish the plants in the garden and eventually us, but when we die we will nourish them.
The bookstores are filled with books that promise to help us find happiness. Stress and adrenal fatigue related diseases including inflammation, obesity and heart diseases are an epidemic. I meet many people in farmer's market who tell me how stressful their life are and how depleted they feel. My observation is that we have become disconnected from one another. We are also disconnected from the food we eat and with that we lost our connection to its source, nature.
"A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living."
People that do not feel connected to the living community of the Earth tend to harm the Earth by trying to make a profit out of it as if it were a resource and not a living, breathing organism. Those who feel isolated from the warmth of human community tend to develop anger that will be directed towards themselves or others.
The feeling of happiness and well being is cultivated when we feel that our life and work is interwoven into something bigger than ourselves. When we work to serve others that are dependent on us, it adds meaning to our work. When we are called to rise up to challenges and be creative it awakes in us curiosity, empathy and compassion that enable us to meet the world in a new way every day.
I wake every day to transplant, harvest and weed in the crisp morning air knowing that the work I do provides local fresh food and medicine to my community. Feeling connected to the garden and to my community fills my life with purpose.
Weeds, what is their purpose ? Ruth is an old and wise herb grower that I once knew. She used to say: "weeds are herbs that we still did not discover their use". Weeds are the gardener's teachers. Different weeds make different area of the garden their home. They can teach you a lot about the soil in that area of the garden.
May we all find the meaning of the gifts we embody and learn how to use them. When we do we shine. Then there is nothing that can match the energy and creativity that we will be able to put to work to benefit all that is around us.