Garlic Lessons

November 22, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Posted in avodat lev, farming, food, spirituality | Leave a comment

The following post was written by Rachel “Freyja” Bedick, Fall 2010 Adamah fellow.

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.

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