At the heart of a retreat center there is often a garden.
When I think of Elat Chayyim retreat center in Accord New York (now incorporated into the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut), I picture the large organic garden. Earthy scents, warm soil, the buzzing bees lulled me into a state of peace each time I stepped inside its gate. The garden produced much of the food for the retreat center’s scrumptious vegetarian meals, and it also provided a spot for meditation, whether at work pulling weeds or sitting in stillness.
For some people, a garden is a place to grow food or flowers and connect with the soil. It’s a place to be most human because Adam, the first human being, was shaped from Adamah, earth. A garden may be a large and lavish backyard mini-farm like that of many of my friends in Northern California, a plot in a bustling community garden, a container garden on a city balcony, or a even a houseplant jungle.
Start On Your Journey
A public garden can be a place to relax and smell the roses, or perhaps be transported to another biome by strolling through a botanical garden.
In Jewish tradition, a garden is symbolic both of idyllic beginnings and a harmonious future. The earth itself is seen as God’s garden, the divine gift of humanity that we are bidden to “serve and to guard.”
Join me in this Gateway of Gardens to explore the symbol of the garden in Jewish tradition and in your life.
The first option below is the suggested next step on your journey. Feel free to browse the following paths and explore in your own time at your own pace.