Labor of Love
Working the Land & Ourselves
If you have a garden or any growing projects happening right now, you must be going through the ebbs and flows of the summer season. At the farm we are putting enormous amounts of energy into working the land to ensure a fruitful harvest and accessible farm-space from week-to-week. While this process is gratifying physically and spiritually, it can be equally exhausting and disheartening. I smile and cheer with glee when I finally spot a mega-squash underneath its camouflage of fanned out leaves and sprawled vines; I also grimace and feel the burn when I return home with scrapes on my arms and legs, the zucchini stamp of revenge. I dance with joy when even the lightest of rains roll through our desert climate; I also sweat and pant, shaking my fist at my sun, on the days that reach 100 degrees.
This daily grind that brings both joy and sorrow allows me to grapple with both the labor of love for the land and my own spirit. The more the highs and lows swing in the fields, the more my emotions and energies do, too. During these extremes, I find moments to reflect to ask why I am feeling either completely energized or drained. I typically find the direct connection to the work I’m doing on the land as the cause for my personal state of being, and that tends to allow me to adapt my perspective in a more positive direction. I can bask in the glory of a huge harvest due to my part in its existence; I can also remember to be gentle toward myself when things out of my control lead to ruin. Just as we take care and nurture the land during this busy time of year, we must also return that courtesy to our own well-being.
So how does this dichotomy and struggle to tend the land and ourselves relate to our Jewish roots? Well, in August comes the Jewish holiday Tisha B’Av, the 9th of the Jewish month of Av. This holiday is a day of mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples, as well as other catastrophes that have caused harm to the Jewish people. As a fast day, the Jewish people are tasked to grieve our losses and mourn both individually and communally. Just as the Jewish tradition offers Shiva as an opportunity to take care of ourselves when we have lost loved ones, this day similarly creates space and community to help us look inward and take care of our spiritual, emotional selves.
Don’t let the blooming, giving, and chaotic summer season swoosh by without a second look! Keep up your tending, and also take time to reflect and connect. Embrace yourself and loved ones throughout all the challenges and victories the land brings you.