There is a teaching I received from Gary, my yoga teacher. He credits it to the Kabbalah. It’s been on my mind lately. Here it is, roughly, from my old notes:
Let your body be a throne for your mind.
Let your mind be a throne for your heart.
Let your heart be throne for your spirit.
Let your spirit be a throne for your soul.
Let your soul be a throne for God.
And it causes me to reflect on the ‘throne’. It’s not an easy chair. It’s a place where some very important responsibilities are upheld. It should not be soft and comfy, nor should it be thorny or uncomfortable. It should be stable and level – a place where a ruler can sit and do her/his job. But as this deep little ditty points out, one job supports the work of another. Ultimately, we all share the weight of each others’ duties.
We did a little more sitting than usual this last weekend, at the Biodynamic Conference. Of course, we also did a whole lot of running in the course of it, too. But it was a joy to take in some of the messages brought by the speakers there.
One of the points that I have been chewing on this week has to do with food and the invisible world. Anthroposophy (the belief system and philosophy of Rudolf Steiner) and Biodynamics acknowledge a giant spectrum of life and intelligence surrounding our everyday existence. Those of us who study our gardens and farms are fortunate to gain first hand experience with some of the minute forms of life that permeate the soil and work with the roots of plants. That’s one direction of wholistic thinking. Last weekend, we were talking about wholistic in the other direction too.
It doesn’t feel true to say “up” and “down”, or “above” and “below”, but those are the terms that are available to us. Soil micro-flora is under our feet. So, even though I deeply respect the workings of those bacteria and fungi, for the time being, they are ‘below’ me.
And so there are other forces at work too, that may be construed as being ‘above’ us. God is always referred to as ‘above’, though I do not conceive of him as a white bearded old man residing in outer space. Maybe it is because the sky is the most ever-present infinite space we can comprehend – that must be where the angels are – where God is.
Anyway, Biodynamic agriculture acknowledges a whole host of un-corporal beings – angels and others – between ourselves and God – a spiritual hierarchy encompassing all Creation, seen and unseen, molecule, atom, and empty space. Just as there are forces at work below us that are invisible to our eyes because they are so small (yet so many, and so powerful), there are also forces at work above us that we cannot see, and their work is also important.
I’m getting a little far out here, huh? Hold on – it’s all about food. If you’ve been reading the works of my fellow Farmwives and myself you’ll notice that we’re all about food. We spend a great deal (majority) of our time tending, harvesting, preserving, cooking, and eating food. And we love that food, and are passionate about the ways that we steward it’s passage from soil to table. That passion is food in itself. It feeds my heart and soul.
Beautiful and lively music, flowers and colors, the smell of rosemary, cool creek water on my bare feet. These are all foods for my senses. Sharing love and fun with family and friends – this is food for my heart.
As we tend the land, we directly feed those beings at work ‘below’ us. We mean to do this well, because in return, their work provides food, both physical and sensorial, for us. Likewise, our activities feed the beings ‘above’ us. It’s harder for me to talk about exactly how that works. I’ve never studied anything like the ‘Soil-Food Web’ for the spiritual hierarchies, but as the concept came up time and time again over the course of the weekend, I’m beginning to think about it more.
Maybe because so many people dear to me have passed away in recent time, most especially Susan, I am more open to thinking about invisible places. Death is such a mystery. I believe that a lot of our fear and resistance to death has to do with that big unknown. Where did that person that I love so much go? I still see her clearly in my mind. I hear her voice and feel her love. In those regards, she is still right here, invisible. Just as I cannot locate a single part of my body that is wholly independently “ME”, I do not wholly associate her with her body. So there is my link, tenuous though it may be, to the invisible world.
There’s faith, to tell us we will meet again in Heaven, or be born again somewhere else, and maybe some people can just set their minds to their belief and not waiver, but I don’t. It’s not that I don’t have faith, just that I believe there’s something else to understand, as well. For instance, maybe Heaven isn’t far away.
Maybe the thoughts that we think, together with our actions and feelings, are helping making food for invisible beings, just like healthy soil microbes help make food for us. Those mysterious beings aren’t nourished by fresh kale salad and sweet potatoes, but maybe our love of one another and good works are an equivalent feast.
When I expand the table to include these beings I cannot see, and can scarcely even conceive of, I am motivated to a whole new level of hospitality. After all, it’s a throne, not an easy chair, where we all find our place. And, I love to serve friends a good meal.