Slice of Heaven
I live in a little slice of heaven on Earth that is nestled upon Morgan Creek and Urieville Lake in Chestertown, a gorgeous colonial Eastern Shore community. My spouse, Deborah, and I purchased these 34 acres with the hopes of one day turning it into an organic herb farm. Apotheosis is a Greek word meaning, “to elevate the God within,” and there is something magical about this land that helps to transform all who are touched by its medicine.
I was first introduced to the writings of the Transcendentalists when I was a Junior in High School. I was captured by Henry David Thoreau’s experience in “Walden,” – particularly his declaration that he had gone into the woods, so that upon dying, he would not discover that he had not lived. I read and reread that passage over and over and thought about its implications – that one could be alive without truly living. I decided then that I would dedicate myself to living a life full of felt experiences and would always do my best to be an active, engaged partner with the world.
The Wisdom of Nature
The first half of my life was to experience this commitment in a very external way: working in Congress; managing a state for a Presidential campaign; serving on the City Council and in the Maryland General Assembly, and running for Governor.
But for the past few years that I have lived on the farm, I am aware of having been granted a gift from our woods that is not dissimilar from Thoreau’s – the gift of internal exploration, deepened intuition, and a growing connection to the wisdom offered by the knowings of nature.
Between the menagerie of wild animals that grace our land – from eagles, herons, and egrets, to wild turkeys, foxes, turtles, deer, raccoons, beavers, otters, and coyotes – and the old growth forest that surrounds the creek and wetlands with stands of mighty sycamores, oaks, maples, and the ever-wise cedars – to the very earth itself that is a generous mixture of clay, sand, and gorgeous topsoil eager to offer its food and herbs in exchange for loving attention to its needs for nutrients and water… what I have discovered here at Apotheosis is a sanctuary for the retreat of the soul. I have found conscious partners in the animals, plants, and earth who have made sure that, upon dying, I would not discover that I had not lived. They have awakened me to something so much bigger than myself.
This awakening has prompted a shift in plans for our immediate vision for the farm.
Originally, we bought this land to support my wife’s work as a clinical herbalist and nutritionist. For the past four years, we have planted red clover as a cover crop to restore the soil’s nutrients and transition the land to organic growing practices. It was our intention to plant our first crops of medicinal herbs to support Deborah’s private clinical practice in the Spring of 2017.
But the land informed us of other plans. After the 2016 Presidential election and its attending civic strife and deepening separation into communities of “Us” versus “Them,” a clear vision began to emerge where this land is used as a training ground for organizing a network of peaceful protestors and social justice advocates that want to help their communities transcend the division. Thus, the birth of Camp MizMD.
This next chapter is quite a fitting vision for the revolutionary history of this property. General George Washington – a friend of the Perkins family who owned this land for many years – very likely spent time at our farm. We do know that history records that the old grain mill on our land was one of the mills that ground the grains feeding Washington’s troops at Valley Forge. Torie sympathizers who wanted to block his food supply burned the mill down. One wall of the old mill remains on the land as a constant reminder of its revolutionary roots.
From the ashes, rises the phoenix. We are beyond excited to think about all the phoenix energy that will come from the trainings on this land and then disperse out into the rest of our great state to help build connected communities of engagement.