A Trip to Deepen Faith

The flyer included in the International Herb Symposium (IHS) welcome packet grabbed my attention. Herbal elder Rosemary Gladstar was hosting a trip to Ecuador that would be co-led by her, her husband, Robert Chartier, by American herbalists Cascade Geller Anderson and my teacher, Kathleen Maier, and a woman I’d heard of, but had only gotten to hear for the first time last summer at the IHS, Rocio Alarcon, an Ecuadoran ethnobotanist and herbalist, and her daughter Michelle Viteri Alarcon, also an ethnobotanist and herbalist.

And here I am, about to leave on what I believe will be the trip of a lifetime—or maybe just the first trip of its kind for me in this lifetime: an uber plant walk through Ecuador.

I’ve been questioning myself a bit lately: Why go? What are my real reasons for going? I generally don’t like the “getting there” aspect of travel, especially when it comes to flying. I’m such a lover of La Terra that, if I had the time, I would prefer to walk to Ecuador! That said, I don’t have that luxury—and this trip is such a privilege anyway.

Oh, but I ducked the question: Why?

Let me dance around it a bit and see if I hit upon something: It has to do with the business I’ve started. Back in college when I studied English and Russian, I had some classes in both subjects in one of the University of Florida buildings where business students had many of their classes. They used to congregate outside. Maybe there was a certain attitude about them: “They’ll rule the world someday” was my sense of them, whereas I, by comparison, just wanted to tell stories about people, be a feature-writing fiend, and someday, a novelist. Looking back, though, maybe it was a veil of “’tude” that I surrounded myself with, making it hard for me to see any value in what they were studying.

Now that I’m running a business, I can’t help but wonder, “Where have I been all these years?!” Everything comes in its own good time, if it’s meant to be. I believe that wholeheartedly. I just never thought I’d be one to say that a business is maybe the ultimate manifestation tool. It goes right to the heart of, How do I see the world? And, more importantly, how do I want to be in the world?

I see Art of Earth both as an extension of myself, but also something greater than me. Although I have a structure for the business and a plan, I don’t exactly know what I’m building or where it will go, what it will become, but I have faith that it’s the right path.

And faith that going to Ecuador will provide an even deeper spiritual tie-in to the business. I don’t know how. And I may not even find out while I’m there. It may take years to process, but the “raw material” will be there for me to work with.

I’m fortunate to have such a good partner in Nick. Unless we finally get enough snow to blanket the ground, he will be at the Westfield Annapolis Sunday market on February 19 in my stead. He can talk a little about elderberries and sumac berries and what they’re used for, but please save any biggie herb questions for when I return. February 19 is the last day I will be offering the elder-sumac elixir for this season. I will offer it again in the fall. Come March 3, I will sample and offer nourishing herbal infusions. So, please stop by to try them.

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