As I was researching material for this column, I came across a very touching and poignant article in the New York Times, “A Place of Healing,” by Meadow Rue Merrill, about the healing power of gardens and farms.
Merrill, who grew up on a farm, describes how going back to her roots by volunteering at a local farm, along with her young children, helped them all heal from the loss of her 7-year-old daughter. She tells how working in the fields, while her children raced up the rows, searching for eggs from the chickens, watching the farm blossom with flowers, and bringing home boxes of fresh vegetables gave her a renewed sense of life.
It’s true that our home and gardens can nurture us and give us a sense of safety, security and harmony. An article at Aish.com, “Getting Back to Eden,” by Rabbi Shraga Simmons, discusses the concept behind this idealized state of mankind.
Simmons begins his article with a quote from Genesis:
“All the wild shrubs did not yet exist on the earth, and all the wild plants had not yet sprouted. This was because God had not brought rain on the earth, and there was no man to work the ground …. God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden – to work it and to protect it.” (Genesis 2:5,7,15)
He then explores the meaning of the quote, saying, “In the Garden of Eden, the ground brought forth ready-made pastry. If you planted a tree, it produced fruit on the first day. Children were conceived and born on the same day – born with the ability to walk and talk. Year-round, the climate was mild and spring-like.
“So what ‘work’ was involved in the Garden? Perhaps you will say: to prune the vines, plow the fields, and pile up the stalks. But did not the trees grow of their own accord? Perhaps you will say: There was other work to be done, such as watering the Garden. But did not a river flow through and water the Garden?
“What then is the meaning of ‘to work and protect it’? To develop it by doing positive mitzvahs, and to protect it by avoiding negative mitzvahs. Positive mitzvahs are God’s way of directing our thoughts and actions toward building the world and humanity.”
Getting back to nature, especially in the spring, when new growth is emerging, is not only healing but gives us hope and the joy of seeing new life rising right in front of us.
Keeping nature alive in our home and gardens is a reminder of continued growth and new possibilities in all areas of our life.
PATRICIA RASKIN, president of Raskin Resources Productions Inc., is an award-winning radio producer and Rhode Island business owner. She is the host of “The Patricia Raskin” show, a radio and podcast coach, and a board member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence.