My spiritual teacher Norma T. ( I write about my time with her in Farming Soul) once told me that it is easiest to develop spiritual tools to access multidimensional consciousness when we have direct contact with nature. I instinctively knew this to be true, familiar with the state of mind that comes when I walk the deer paths of our ranch, or stare into the green depth of the meadow south of our kitchen, or moderate the lively “chatter” of the garden, its many plants clamoring: More water! or I don’t want to grow next to the carrots! or The plantain is in my space!
Even as a child I knew working in the garden brought tired muscles and a rested mind, one open to the more subtle language of onions and peas, of cabbage and tomatoes. I recognized this state in my father’s rested look in the spring when he finally got into the fields to plow. I ascribe my ease in entering the realms of the quieted mind to the physical labor that we kids were forced into, or so it seemed at the time! We walked rows of soybeans in the early summer, cutting out milkweed and pigweed with sharp hooks, before joining de-tasseling crews for the local corn seed grower in July. After harvest we made a few extra bucks for the church youth group by picking up corn, throwing dropped ears into an old green wooden wagon pulled through the fields by one of our fathers. We often joined our fathers and yapping collies as we did the yearly cattle drive down the country roads from one cornfield to another. The cows feasted on the corn and corn stubble before the freeze and snows of the extensive winter. And as I remember it, we kids always complained! And yet, we loved the tasks: the community of them, the games and storytelling that would come in the work, or the simple state of mind that comes from being in the flat Illinois prairie alone or within proximity with others, but doing the same task over and over, resting in a largeness we could not then consciously recognize.
I did my own version of this “forced labor” aspect of boring physical tasks with my own sons, knowing the importance of it to consciousness, and my sons did their own version of complaining! The monotony of doing a physical task over and over in the natural world opens us to the language of the spheres, one might say! It is a meditation: the rational mind lets go at some point, and there is a openness that replaces everything. Time become irrelevant. There is only the present and the task at hand, and it goes on and on and on. Yes, boredom maybe the way a child describes it, but boredom is a portal to other dimensions— or frequencies, my architect husband likes to correct me.
So why is it I still resist the hoe? This week I am faced with the beginning task of the year: weeding the long rows of the rose geranium. Over the winter a number of interlopers have snuck under the frost cloth. I know that once begun, the scent of rose geranium will rise like fairy breath. I know time will stop, that such tasks are always portals to the gnosis of oneness, and that in spending the afternoon weeding out the large leafed weeds competing for nutrients and water, I will come away restored— if a little sore. Nevertheless, I always resist.
Are portals always sources of ambivalence?