Walking into Half Moon Farm in Lakewood, CO last Sunday, between trellises of greenery and the far off sound of a trickling fountain, I was welcomed with a genial wave and an introduction to owner Eric Rooney; a deeply tanned, overall-clad man who invited me to take a walk around the field and enjoy the scenery. Although around twenty people made an appearance for the Grief and Memorial planting service at the farm, it remained tranquil.
I stepped carefully through lines of sprouts, mint leaves and budding roses, noticing a large chicken coop in the back corner and a bee hive settled among a grove of lush stalks.
It was shockingly quiet and serene, despite being settled in a residential neighborhood next to multiple busy roads. I stepped into a small greenhouse filled with Swiss chard, green onions and a plethora of other vegetables and herbs. I welcomed the slight increase of heat and noticed hanging pots which provided a canopy of vines and leaves.
A small crowd milled about the plants until we were gently called to a small sitting area under an aged oak. Eric stood before us and passed a jar of chamomile blossoms around, asking each of us to take one. A breeze blew through the silent group.
Eric began with a short yet moving speech about loss and grief, about how losing a loved one is an impossible reality that we live through without really knowing how. He encouraged each of us to show up as we are, that Half Moon Farm was a safe space to do so. He asked us to crush the chamomile flower and smell the sweet aroma on our fingers.
As I let the broken blossom fall to the ground, some of the white petals were taken away by the wind.
After we were invited to speak the name of our loved one aloud, we were left in silence for a moment as Eric prepared the seed station. Sitting in silence can often be uncomfortable, but at Half Moon Farm it was a welcome challenge.
At our own pace, we rose and gathered around the seed table, where Eric had set out small vials of a variety of seeds, buckets of soil and small pots. The act of planting something that would grow and thrive in the place of someone lost, in such a special place, was a comfort that I wasn’t fully expecting. I knew it was a beautiful idea, but I wasn’t prepared to be as moved as I was, or to feel the healing process take such a significant step forward.
When the planting was mostly done, we were invited to remain at the farm; to wander through the plants, chat with Eric or others, or to sit in silence. I chose to sit on a stone bench under the oak tree, a set of windchimes above my head offering a soft melody to mesh with the sound of silence. In a world that continues to endlessly, ruthlessly move forward so quickly, sitting alone, with no agenda in the sunshine was a special time that I didn’t know I needed until I was offered a safe space to do so.
I felt my heart settle and slow, my muscles relax against my bones. There was no pressure there; to do something, be someone, move forward or even to talk. A place where a soul could settle.
Upon my departure I thanked Eric, to which he responded “Will you come back?”
I certainly will.