Sanctuary Steward: Dawn Combs
Over the past two years while I was birthing my children it seemed that our work with the land had stalled. This spring I found that that assumption was very wrong. I have meant to sit and write about our sanctuary a thousand times, and it seemsthat only now is it really the right time to do so.
Just before my first child came into our lives, we had been encouraged to take the business focus in a different direction. When I began working with the land many years ago, I had a vision one day while seeking guidance and, I guess, collusion from the spirits that reside here. What I got was a resounding “YES!”, and I began working toward a center that supported women’s balancing and couples’ fertility work through the plants. At that time we decided to name our farm “Mockingbird Meadows” after the mockingbirds that came every year to nest and raise little ones. They seemed to be giving us their blessing that first year by nesting above our very first bee hives. When it came time for my son Aidan to be born, we were changing our focus to the herbal infused honeys that I make, and I was being dissuaded more and more away from my initial end goal. Those two years were like wading through molasses in January! I was very busy with a new one and then I was pregnant again to boot, so you may say that is why things were so difficult. But there was more afoot. This year as I sat nursing my daughter in the doldrums of February, a plan for a medicinal herbs CSA popped into my head fully formed. I had been trying to figure out how to do it logistically for years, and here it was all laid out! My husband and I sat down and began to look back over our plans, and we found that our customers were voting with their dollars as to our farm’s direction. The things that people were coming to buy from us 9 times out of 10 were the healing preparations that I was making. That settled it. We decided to go full tilt back into the herbs and put everything else aside. What a difference!
Chamomile is the plant that has had the most to tell me over the past few years. This year as I picked the early blooms, she whispered to me of an observation that I hadn’t made. Over the past 2 years while we were taking the farm away from the original plan, the mockingbirds for which we’d named the land hadn’t stayed with us. We were so distressed during that time, watching for any sign of them! As I sat in the sun and picked that day, a pair of flirting mockingbirds was dancing in the grass nearby. They had returned along with our renewed commitment to what our land wants us to build together. At the time, I was planning to buy a drum to lead our medicine wheel dedication ceremony and had been learning about animal totems. I quickly went inside and looked up what the mockingbird has to teach us. Mockingbird is a teacher that helps in fulfilling your life purpose without fear.
It is now late summer, and our initial mockingbird pair is joined by their noisy, teenager children. They follow me through tending the plants, teasing me with the cries of my children and playing at being one of our stray chickens. Work this year has been so much easier—almost like we are in the stream, moving in concert with quickly flowing water. We are tired, we are sore, but the plants are growing, and the business is growing. We have launched our Women’s Herbal Resource Center, which I hope can be a beacon of hope and knowledge to women in all stages of their lives—from first moon through menopause, but especially for those struggling with fertility. We are attracting many other practitioners—reiki, massage, qi gong, chiropractic, hypnobirthers, midwives, doulas and many more! I have started my herbal practice and am helping clients learn to rebalance their bodies naturally. All of this is taking place in the middle of our teaching gardens where the herbs themselves can teach visitors as they walk the medicine trail, experience the labyrinth or meditate in our medicine wheel. What an amazing gift our land is giving us as we return to her and listen to her wisdom! What an amazing time to be doing this work!