I first met Christy in the Berkshires during the summer of 2003. Drawn together by a shared love for farming and by an inborn desire to explore and to create spaces of healing, it is amazing to find our paths crossing yet again, still sharing the vision of healing & growth that brought us together some 10 years ago.
This past Saturday, Christy led her 2nd Bodhicitta retreat here at Amazing Heart Farm. Already looking forward to the next retreat, I decided to follow up with a few questions that might offer a brief window into the relationship between her farm work and spiritual practice.
What is it that you most value and hold sacred? Right now, what I most value and hold sacred is the opportunity just to be, as I am, and still be in connection. When extended that opportunity, all sorts of growing can take place. It is very healing. I also value the opportunity to grow.
How has what you value and long for helped to shape your religious/spiritual/faith practice? I think I have always longed for room to grow. I didn’t necessarily have those words to describe the kind of itch that I felt. It drove me around for a long time, like a demon, until I found a tradition that has enough room for the entirety of human experience. My family culture used to be based on control. Self-control and control of one’s experience. It didn’t leave a lot of room for growth, or language for it.
Do you have a particular faith tradition? At this point I would say that what fascinates me is Buddhism. I still have quite a bit to learn about it. It is such a rich tradition and has so much to offer. It is a vibrant, living tradition that offers very practical tools for how to bring one’s heart to the world and actually make contact. But of course, I am fascinated by spirituality in general, in its myriad forms. Spirituality is so intricate, so specific to each individual and yet, representative of the infinite. Fascinating.
What role does spiritual practice have in your work with the land? I am grateful for a strong link with the earth. I know that I need a certain proximity to the earth and the seasons to feel like myself. I feel most generous when I am grounded, and I really like to feel generous. So grounding in meditation and grounding in physical work outside are very linked for me. The satisfaction that comes from working outside…it is a different mode of being. I find I struggle to find the words to describe it here because it brings almost a preverbal state of mind. It’s very soothing.
If you haven’t done so already, please describe Bodhicitta practice. Has Bodhicitta Practice shifted your relationship with the earth, or influenced how you experience your work with the land? Bodhicitta practice is focused on the experiential reality of the heart. We have all sorts of ideas about what is going on with us or what our heart is saying, but taking time to feel into the experience of the heart can be revelatory and surprising. We may find unexpected information there that wants to be expressed in our life. The heart’s way of knowing can open up an entire journey. A journey that is much closer to who we actually are.
I’m not sure if the practice has shifted my relationship with the land. I kind of feel like I am the land. The way the landscape and sense of place resonate inside me is very powerful for me. I suppose the practice will facilitate my ability to express that part of myself and share it with others. My current life, creating an urban farm at my grandparents’ former home, with the intention of inviting people into the space for meditation and healing, feels like the most accurate expression of my heart I have ever had the courage to live. Through this vision, I make a commitment to myself and my history, the land that is here, and to learning how to reach out to my community from my truest, most grounded and most vulnerable self. All of this has arisen from practice. I wouldn’t have had courage to do it without practice as a resource.