Endings turned into New Beginnings: Reflecting On The New Year
As 2021 has come to a close and we welcome a new year, the sentiment “out with the old, in with the new” can evoke feelings of hope and optimism. However, the flip side of that sentiment is bittersweet.
Recently, I was asked to lead a group of volunteers in removing our beloved passionfruit tunnel. Although I vaguely remember a time on the Farm before the passion fruit tunnel existed, it has always been a legendary landmark for most of us. The first time I ever tasted passion fruit in my life was from that very plant while standing in the welcome garden right next to the tunnel. From that moment on I was hooked!
Unfortunately, passion fruit plants only have a lifespan of about 5-7 years, which means our legendary plant has reached its end. I was tasked with leading a group of volunteers in pruning away the vines from the tunnel, removing the original passion fruit plant and replacing it with a new one. The gravity of that chore weighed on me as I reminisced on all of the memories I’ve made with this plant. With a heavy heart, all I could think about was how this once thriving plant that brought so much life and joy to the welcome garden would soon be gone. I mourned.
It wasn’t until the removal was complete, and light began to shine on the ground under the tunnel for the first time in years, that I started to feel a sense of hope. I realized that the end of this passionfruit plant means an entirely new beginning for the next one. The process of removing the passion fruit reminded me of the story of Honi the Circle Maker.
While out searching for food, Honi saw an elderly woman planting a carob tree and asked her how long it would take for the tree to bear fruit. She responded that it would take about 70 years. Honi scoffed and asked her why she was wasting her time planting a tree from which she will never have a chance to benefit. Her response was that she had been benefiting her whole life from the many carob trees growing all around her and that those trees had been planted long before she was born. She was not planting the carob tree for her own benefit but for the benefit of future generations.
לדור ודור (L’dor V’dor) in Hebrew means “from generation to generation.” L’dor V’dor is about learning from the past and honoring the wisdom of our elders that they impart on us in order to make the world a better place for future generations. Even the seemingly trivial tasks we perform at the Farm are infused with profound lessons, just like the removal of the passionfruit. The ancient Jewish wisdom that informs our practices along with guidance from local indigenous tribal elders gives deep and rich meaning to the work we do.
Heading into the new year, it would be careless to approach this cycle with an “out with the old, in with the new ” mentality. In the grand circle of life, death and renewal, we are all part of both old and new. Just like the old passion fruit stump will eventually decompose and nourish the new plant growing next to it, so does the wisdom of our past inform the potential of our future. Let this new year in 2022 be a year in which we work together to build a better, stronger, healthier world for all!
Written by Ashly Tamayo, Farm Educator