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Feminist Farming: Learning Teshuvah from the Earth

 Alongside, but not separate from my Jewish practice, I am guided by my feminist practice, which is spiritual, too. There have been times when I’ve been overwhelmed by the grief of how much soil people have killed, or how we won’t stop, or the sexual comments and harassment at work wear down my will and I don’t know how to show up to life anymore. Feminist history tells me I am not the first person to feel that feeling: feminism, like Judaism, is a lineage for me. It is a creative practice to come up with rituals and ways of being that make staying on earth in the midst of the heartache possible, and maybe even joyful. 

What’s true is that I can’t be fully “clean” or “pure” in a world full of pain and harm. I don’t want to hurt anyone, and I am inevitably a willing and unwilling participant in systems of harm. It’s a set-up. My task is to open my heart and hands to the wound, despite my fear, and ask it what happened and what it needs. Then, to share this practice with others. I did not create the pain, and I am part of it now. What does that mean? What do I do? What is it actually asking of me?

We can have a healing impact by slowing down and learning from the earth. The earth is the keeper of our history. From farming and learning the history of the land, I gain more and more skill in the art of repair, in teshuvah–returning my (our) soul to its wholeness. The process of this return doesn’t mean avoiding all pain but, rather, moving toward it. This includes learning to navigate difficulty, learning to tolerate our own discomfort, giving resources back to Black and Indigenous communities, practicing listening without waiting to speak, and tending the wound despite the mess. This is as necessary for the soil as it is for all of our relationships. 

I believe the answer for me — and for lots of other people who are kept safe by whiteness but who also carry trauma and oppressed identities — is to grow the capacity to hold tension without being incapacitated by it. To understand our part in the story; that we have a role and we can change it, and to use our agency to be courageous when we see people with power committing injustice. 


mada lives on unceded Coast Salish land. She is a grief worker and guide who loves to write and spend time in water.


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The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.