Tending nature as spiritual practice

My grandparents were fellaheen, peasant farmers. Both my parents pursued higher education and occupied educational and governmental jobs. I was born and raised as a city girl with little access to nature – aside from the picnics we took on weekends and the visits to Aqaba’s Red sea or the Dead Sea, which were the highlights of my childhood years. 

In 2009, I stayed at the Lucid Arts Foundations in Inverness CA for a 40 day solo retreat. I had just finished my MA studies and was searching for guidance and life purpose. During my stay in Inverness, I was assigned to tend a garden. It was small and abandoned for many years. I dived fully into the work and found myself at times simply knowing exactly what to do… it’s as if this skill has been passed down to me from my grandparents… or perhaps is it passed down to all of us in our genetic code. Gardening, farming, planting and harvesting… that’s one of the first things we learned as human beings… and thus we survived. 

Working in the land was healing and grounding… and it was loads of fun. Waking up with the sunrise, working until the sun was too hot above my head, washing my clothes for the next day and spending the rest of the day wandering in the mountains, following deer trails and getting lost .. to find my way. 

But after the retreat, I went back to city life… missing the greenery and the dirt under my nails. 

Skip forward to 2015… The Netherlands. My husband and I moved into a house in a forest on a large piece of land. It was an open canvas in which to create, I began to make gardens, learning about permaculture and implementing its principles… what a brilliant system. Too bad I did not discover it while in California where I could have found many teachers and guides to help me. But thank goodness to good books and internet. With every passing year, our garden provides us with more food… with the aim of being as self sufficient as possible within a couple of years. 

This is my dear father on a visit – must have been 2016, when the garden was nothing but a collection point for weeds, used by the neighbours as a parking lot.  My father was 79 at the time, and while he was not in great health, his fellah blood could not help but get his hands dirty, pulling out this and that, getting out of breath and loving every second of it.  

This is the view from the other side, in 2020, during which the garden was providing us with rhubarb, beans, beats, apples and pears, countless herbs from sage to mint and thyme and St.John’s wort, to kale and peas and and and…. there is nothing like seeing plants grow.  

From one garden to two to three and most recently, to a green house (currently being built.) The joy of working the land is like nothing else. 

From gardening, I found my way to beekeeping…. and I have fallen in love like never before in my life. There are so many stories to tell about that journey, and trust me, you will hear about it… for now… this is just to hold space for this menu entry. 

More on the blog: Bee journey