Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wild Blackberries Need No Intermediary

Today, for the first time since I've returned home, I finally found time to reflect on my time with Joanna Macy at the Land of Medicine Buddah.  It was a very powerful experience, one that is continuing to have reverberations and aftershocks in my life as time passes.  I feel more present with the work that I have long felt called to do in this world: as an earth-priestess, as a healer doing the work of the Great Turning.  The threads that seem to be pulling me with the most consistency and passion are bringing me ever deeper into a life that is different from what I'd ever imagined I would want at 31, or 35, or 70.  I'm trying to be open to that, to simply let go -- let go and go to Pittsburgh for the G20 actions, or to Copenhagen for the Climate Talks, or to wherever this wild ride takes me.

All day, as I've picked wild blackberries and made homemade yogurt and read about herbs and urban foraging and been loving and open with Jason, my partner, I've continued to feel peaceful and joyous  like I did at the retreat.  There is a sense of Time Magic happening -- it started in those woods, at a Buddhist monastery steeped in ancient practices and silence and tall redwood trees, yet continues even now that I've come home to my little pad in Oakland, surrounded by invasive and elegant Eucalyptus trees and the California Bays that in spite of their lush fragrance point to recent environmental destruction in these hills.  Every moment seems to stretch out, to open up, like a blossom that closed in the harsh darkness of the Industrial Growth Society and is now unfurling, petal by petal, in the pink dawn of new possibility.

Earlier today, picking the blackberries that are so profuse at this time of year that I can hardly keep up with them (that in fact I need to will myself to stop picking, for it seems they go on forever) I realized that I was learning about abundance in a way that I have never in my life understood it.  No matter how my friends have tried to tell me otherwise, it has long been one of my core beliefs that one of the unavoidable facts of life is that we must struggle in order to live, struggle to "make a living."  I may have wished it and even said otherwise, but in my heart I bought the myth inherent in that phrase: that the basic experience of living is something that must be made, willed, constructed.  There may be loopholes here and there, lucky breaks, but those are the exceptions that make the rule.  I've even found a couple of those loopholes here and there in my life, but those experiences didn't have the power to change the overall belief that I've carried with me since adolescence -- one that my intellectual father posited over and over again in my young life, the creed coming through in his actions even when his words said otherwise.

The Industrial Growth Society is completely dependent on a pervasive Myth of Scarcity: we are kept in chains by our belief that at the end of the day our survival is contingent on having money to buy food, to have a place to live, having water to drink. 

A couple of months ago, I went to a talk given by the urban homesteaders that founded the Freedom Farm movement -- home gardens that provide enough food to live on, even on a small city lot.  It was hearing them speak that helped me make the connection between freedom and food.

My epiphany, though it felt mind-blowing and intense, was quite simple: "Oh, right.  They have our food."

They -- the corporations, the IGS, the landowners -- whatever incarnation "they" are taking at the moment doesn't change the predicament.   "They" have the things that are essential to our survival, and if we don't do what "they" want (like working for them), we won't be able to have those things, and we will die.

The wild blackberries tell a different story, one that I could sink my teeth into in a way that made the truth of it unavoidable.   Abundance comes from the earth; it is natural -- it is the way of things when they are in balance -- it is ripeness waiting to be realized, and when it seems gone or lost, that is only because it is being stolen, suppressed, or adulterated.  The earth, of her own accord, nurtures us throughout our lives if we open ourselves to the juicy fertility of her and surrender our stubborn ideas about what wealth is, what happiness and success should look like, what it means to be satisfied.  She does not need to be paid -- nobody needs to be paid in order for our most primal, essential needs to be satisfied -- food, shelter, water, sunshine, sex.  Abundance and diversity-- not the scarcity of the IGS -- is the quintessential nature of life on earth, and has been since life began on this garden planet.

Just as Time, freed from the confines of the IGS during the retreat, seemed to unfold and blossom before me, today I found that so too does abundance.  The earth herself provides the sweetness and sustenance of the blackberries and elderberries and the miner's lettuce in the hills all around me.  No corporate power acts as intermediary or granter -- it simply is.  No man pays me so that I may in turn pay another.  She simply Is.


  1. Yes sir, that's my baby!!!

    Rivka, you have made your scruffy old Mom so proud of you today, there are just no words for it. I mean...I am practically speechless, and that's an unusual condition for me. It's absolutely beautiful...hard to imagine how it could be better.

    I want to spread the word to everyone in my address book, which I'm not even doing for my own blog! I know your Dad would be proud of you too. I'd like to believe that in some way he is aware of it, and is just as proud of you as I am.

    Love, Mom

  2. Nice. Thanks for the processing and the thoughts.

    (John in St. Paul)

  3. Rebecca,
    I am a really old guy now, so it is good to know that you'll be around to run the world when I cash in my chips.

    You've learned how to circumvent our masters, and that is half the battle. Just don't forget to learn your other lessons.