I was originally drawn to Adamah for the sake of learning farm skills and learning about environmental sustainability through a Jewish lens. Communal living also appealed to me. Even Jewish communal living sounded interesting, but being a part of a Jewish spiritual community was something that I wasn’t that excited about. I knew that I enjoyed singing Jewish songs, but that was basically the extent of my spirituality. One of the surprises for me at Adamah is how we, the staff and Adamahnikim, have created an incredibly spiritual space together in which I feel comfortable thinking and talking about the existence of G-d, or oneness, or the creator, or that unnameable life force, and my relationship to it.
It’s amazing to me that diverse parts of my day at Adamah seem to invite spirituality as a topic of thought, conversation, and learning. It makes sense to me that it would arise while chanting and meditating in the mornings during Avodat Lev (service of the heart), but while putting away the drill and hammer that we had been using to build outdoor wooden stairs? I didn’t expect that that would be a time when Alysa and I would begin talking about whether or not silent meditation is a way for us to connect with G-d or simply a practical way to calm the mind. And even if meditation is only a way for us to calm our minds, isn’t it possibly that calming one’s mind and connecting with oneself more deeply is a way to also connect with the Divine? These seem to be typical conversations for me at Adamah.
Then of course there is the abundance of opportunities to think about spiritual things whenever I am working in the sadeh (the field) or Beebe Hill. Yesterday while planting garlic on Beebe I began to meditate on faith and having faith. It seemed remarkable and almost ridiculous to me to think that a lonely garlic clove, which I would normally dice into a cast-iron pan for a stir fry, has the capability to survive through the harsh New England winter and produce a new stalk of garlic. It’s truly a miracle that a garlic clove + soil/compost + sun + water + time= more garlic! I may have to return to Adamah in the spring to actually see this harvest of garlic to believe it. Nevertheless, while planting I was struck by how much faith I have in a process that is so mysterious to me. How does this growth happen? How do we know that it’s happening when we don’t have any visible evidence? In a few months from now we won’t dig up the frozen earth, extract the fledgling garlic plant and put it under a microscope to witness the cells dividing. We simply have to be patient and trust that the growth is happening even when we can’t see it; even when the field seems frozen and stagnant.
This lesson in faith that the garlic taught me yesterday is one that can easily apply to human beings. It’s something that I wish I remembered more often, especially when I am anxious and hard on myself about the person I am and the person I want to be and fixate on not knowing my future. I am grateful that through planting garlic I was reminded that growth is always happening even when it’s not easily apparent.
Editor’s note: At ADAMAH, we take an hour each morning for meditation and chanting. The following piece describes a recent Avodat Lev that took place on Beebe Hill, the street which streatches along 15 acres of our farm land.
This morning at 6am, we began our ascent up Beebe Hill. Light was just emerging from the edges of our horizon and the blurriness that accompanies the shapes of things near dawn was dissolving into clear, distinctive imagery. Ten feet apart and silent, we followed one another up the steepening meadows and rocky, rooted woodland. The trees curved towards us like a concave shell, one unified structure, a tunnel, guiding us along the trail. I did not realize that I felt squeezed by the trees until we were popped out of their structural hold and into a vast field of tall grass and wild flowers. As we walked, my bare arms, brushed by the low howl of the wind livened. Had they not been as alive before? The bodies walking in front of me stood silhouetted against the backdrop of the Berkshires, each billion dollared, real estated mountained rolling gracefully. They too were silhouetted against darker, less defined mountains rolling behind them. All parties unaware of their astounding partnership. So small we were. The largest among us were specks on the page, a tiny smudge of pen ink in the great masterpiece of the morning skyline. And so we sat like that. We sang thanks to the return of ourselves this morning (Modeh Ani) and to the oneness that we must remind ourselves of twice daily (The shema), then slowly descended. I cursed that my lungs could not inhale forever.
This post was written by Ariel Kohane, Fall 2010 fellow.