What is Baraka? (Author: Tasha Bradsell)
To all our gardeners, we know that gardening is a pleasure. There is nothing equal to the sun on your back as you bend down in the garden, dig into warm soil and allow little creatures to run over your fingers as you plant seeds that hold the promise of a harvest to come. And yes… cursing the weeds.
Well…that moment is Baraka.
The most direct translation of the word Baraka is “a blessing.” Baraka is perfect peace. That moment when you feel at one with the Earth. At one with the Creator, Mother Earth, or friends and family. Whatever you believe, it does not matter what you call those minutes of pure pleasure. It’s the moment that has no words to describe. It’s simply Baraka – beautiful and beyond words.
Happily, gardening is one of those activities that allows for Baraka. There are many other moments (I think of fishing or skiing or dancing) that hold the same beautiful minute.
I’d like to take credit for naming my greenhouse Baraka. But it wasn’t my word. It was Andy Bradsell’s word.
How Baraka Came to Be
Andy is my late husband. An exceptional man who loved the outdoors.
An avid and skilled fisherman and hunter, he used the word Baraka to describe those moments that were literally beyond words. He would be in a boat with his mates, sun shining and fish jumping…he would look at them and say nothing more than Baraka. They knew what he meant.
Andy had a lot of beautiful tattoos. One was Baraka across his chest, another prominent one across his back was Carpe Diem. He was a soldier, a “man’s man” but he really really was in tune with something even bigger…
Andy was a Royal British Marine Commando. When I met him he’d left the service and was working privately as a “Close Protection Specialist.” That means a top-level bodyguard.
He was a bodyguard for celebrities like Madonna when he lived in Miami, billionaires when he lived in New York and he protected the Queen of England when he resided there. In Canada he created his own Close Protection company which trained RCMP as well as others in the industry to do this specialized work. He worked all over the world protecting people. I met him because he was called to protect me when I worked in television and had a threatening stalker.
Loss, Grief and Healing through Baraka
In 2004, Andy went to work in Iraq to protect those who were helping rebuild after the war. In Northern Iraq his protection detail was ambushed. Andy sheltered his client and comrades by literally driving into the bullets to save the lives of those he was sworn to protect.
Our family was shattered and I, a journalist at the time, could no longer deal with the war and news that had been my daily fodder. I left television and began freelancing but my heart was not in it.
My garden became my refuge. My therapy. It’s a long story but it led me to quit a career I’d had and loved for years. I bought an acreage with a small existing greenhouse. It seemed crazy at the time, but I wanted to be in the kind of place I imagined Andy and I might one day live. It was no longer in my heart to leave the kids and head to the airport for another shoot.
I built the property into a new life with our young children. I expanded the business and learned to live again.
The obvious name of my new business was Baraka Gardens. Since then, the word Baraka has meant so much more to me. Andy’s legacy and lesson. The quiet, perfect moments have kept me living and growing.
I think of gardening as Baraka because it’s quite simply, a primal moment. Andy knew that. He wasn’t a gardener, but he was certainly an outdoorsman who was in so in touch with the Earth. There is something in our human history that keeps us close to that..
We’ve lost much in our modern grocery-shopping world. So when we get to harvest our own food by fishing or hunting, when we nurture seeds into food or a beautifully coloured garden, we feel a reward that goes straight to our soul.
So, when you make your plans for your yard this year, remember that it is more than making a pretty display of flowers or that your vegetables that will reward you with some fresh salsa.
Make this year’s gardening plans your opportunity to have a Baraka moment. The activity of gardening allows you to reach into the Earth and pull out that thing that is in your gut. Feel the dirt in your hands, watch the insects that run through your garden and savour the feeling of Baraka when it comes.
And as for those insects – remember to identify good and bad (we can help you with that), get to know your soil (we can help you with that too) and the plants that will do best with your sun or shade (we can help you with that too).
If you plant a garden this year and take a moment to feel the earth, I guarantee you a Baraka moment!