It’s the smell of basil that does it to me. I feel grounded. My thoughts come in for landing. At the same time, I am uplifted. My spirit is full of light. I guess, overall, picking basil balances me. And that is how the various streams of thought that have been bouncing in my head all week finally coalesce. It’s the basil.
In the garden, the visual field of work is horizontal. Plants grow out of the earth, into the air. Ourselves and our various livestock walk on the earth with our heads in the air, more or less. We share the effects of gravity, the quality of the atmosphere. We share a horizontal plane.
But in truth, we are being influenced and are making waves in the vertical plane as well. The life beneath the soil has everything to do with what happens above it, as does the atmosphere above us, and beyond.
It is easier, simpler, to work horizontally and not think too much about the vertical plane. Don’t worry about the soil as long as the plants grow. Just slap down some NPK and carry on. Don’t think about CO2 emissions or the phase of the moon, just drive that tractor!
In the practice of Biodynamic agriculture, we are called upon to expand our thinking, and our work, in every direction. The life beneath the soil is of utmost importance, and we cannot see it. We have to rely on the evidence we find growing out of it to learn about it, and do what we can from up here to make a positive impact below. Likewise, we stretch our understanding upward, into the cosmos, and try to perceive that the soil, the plants, and all life, is influenced by the near and outer reaches of space. We even do things to try to help that relationship be healthy and strong. We cannot see it, but maybe, with time, we begin to feel something about it that we didn’t feel before.
I began thinking of this after attending church last Sunday. The visiting pastor spoke about a three fold way of forgiveness. It was a new one for me. He explained that as we come to understand, ask, and receive the forgiveness of a higher power, we grow in our ability to forgive others. This is laid out in the Lord’s Prayer when we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The unspoken third link is that by engaging in that relationship of forgiveness and forgiving, we become able to forgive ourselves, as well. It’s a very important third link, in my opinion, often overlooked, to the detriment of our well-being.
And it seems to translate into other realms of relationship, as well.
My parents are of the Baby Boomer generation. They had some rather severe differences with their parents, my grandparents, in both lifestyle and ideology. But, from what I witnessed growing up, they still respected their parents. By respecting their parents, they were able to respect themselves, and in turn became respectable people. And I respect them all the more for having watched it all go down.
I don’t know, but I suspect that when we lose respect for others, especially those older than ourselves, it becomes harder to develop a sense of self-respect, which in turn makes it more difficult to treat those younger than ourselves with respect. But how else will they learn? Surely, it’s up to us, each one to become a respectable person.
Verticality isn’t easy. Look to see whether you are sitting up straight right now. Your spine and all the internal organs around it work best when it is lined up, balanced, vertically. But many of us have a tendency to slump into the horizontal plane. When we sit back up, there is an instant of relief, a feeling of rightness, a deeper breath. That instant is followed by some tension, because we have made a habit of the horizontal slump. The habit has invaded the musculature of our backs, so it becomes more difficult to do what we were made to do.
But it’s worth it to do it anyway. We can establish a new habit of sitting tall, and our musculature will adapt, and we will be stronger and breathe more freely. Likewise, if we practice making friendly and respectful relationships with people of all ages (and colors and creeds), our community will be healthier, stronger, and more enjoyable as we begin to appreciate all those people who share our world. If we accept and practice forgiveness, with others, with a higher power, with ourselves, our hearts will be lighter. If we grow our food in relationship to the soil and the air and the whole universe, seen and unseen, our world will be fit for life in abundance, in balance, in beauty.
There’s plenty to be said about the effects of letting ourselves slide into existence on a purely horizontal plane. I don’t really want to say all that. It’s easy enough to see, everywhere. It seems more important to affirm that verticality is worth the effort.
At least, that’s how it seems when I am picking the basil.
I would like to give credit to some of my thinking today to the following:
Robert Bly’s book The Sibling Society.
Rudolf Steiner’s work in creating Biodynamic Agriculture.
And Pastor Jason Roe for his effective sermon.