Earth Etude for Elul 20
Healing the Soil, Healing the Soul
by Rabbi Robin Damsky
~ I live a life of privilege. From being a single mother, I have a student loan debt for myself and my daughter that would take 20 debt cancellations to settle. I am approaching Medicare age and my hair thins by the hour. But I am healthier than most. I dance. I understand and prepare healthy food. I teach people about the earth. As a Jew I am in the minority, but I have a voice, and a platform through which to share and amplify that voice. I am newly married to the love of my life. And I live atop a mountain that has views from here to forever. Just over 2.25 acres, our plan is to turn this property into a food forest with a meditation labyrinth of native pollinators. So much richness.
And with all this privilege, we have a worry about water. Our property has a well that is slow producing. We now await a third opinion, as in recent months we’ve been told the well is healthy; and conversely, told not to grow food here because the well won’t produce enough water. A microcosm of water concerns we see all over the globe.
Me not growing food is not an option. Not just because it’s a way to care for the earth. Not just because it’s a way to provide healthy food for family, neighbors, community. Not just because it’s a way to facilitate others in enhancing their relationship with the land. But because this is my teshuvah. It is my way to express my gratitude to the Creator for my life and my sustenance, and it is a way – albeit very small – to mitigate climate change even a tad. Composting, building soil, using permaculture and other regenerative practices to grow ecosystems – this is my return to Source, return to my soil soul.
How do you experience your soil soul? Are you fueled to grow things? Are you impelled to political work on climate change? Are you teaching people about the ocean, the air? Going hybrid or electric, biking or using public transportation? How do you feed the soil-being that you are – the adam from adamah: the human built from earth? Nourishing your soil self is the teshuvah that the future of the Earth’s ability to sustain us is dependent upon.
I recommend slowing down. When I do, I breathe better. Try it. When we’re breathing, our interconnectedness with All That Is pervades our cells, our knowingness. We remember. We remember that we are one with the soil. In that remembering, the right teshuvah for our essence manifests itself. And we blossom.
We’ll grow food on this mountain. We’re looking into cisterns. Swales. Ponds. Any way we can catch water, store water, send water back into the soil to nourish life. We’ll keep feeding the earth and feeding each other. Returning to the earth over and again for our guidance. Remembering that every breath is a privilege.
Rabbi Robin Damsky, identified by Kenissa (kenissa.org), as an innovator redefining Jewish life, leads Limitless Judaism, a project of learning, movement, meditation, melody, art, tilling and tending the earth, that draws the lines of connection between our physical bodies, our spiritual expression and Gaia, our earth-cosmos. She serves as Rabbi-In-Residence at Judea Reform Congregation; and leads meditations regularly for the Institute of Jewish Spirituality. Robin lives in Efland, NC. Find her on Instagram or Facebook: @limitlessjudaism, or https://hy.page/limitlessjudaism.