The Herb Bus stops at the Open Door Community on the first Wednesday of every month. In this month’s issue of Hospitality, their regular newsletter, they gave a shout out to the Bus and our efforts to spread the health and happiness through herbalism. And I would like to give a shout-out right back for the wonderful work the Open Door is engaged in on the daily.
The Open Door is a residential community dedicated to resisting war and violence, dismantling racism, sexism, and heterosexism, abolishing the death penalty and building a stronger and more loving community by nurturing all members of our community including the homeless and prison inmates. They open the house several days a week and offer many needed services such as soup kitchen, showers, phones, and medical care. There are 4 different free clinics at the Open Door — basic medical, foot care, women’s, and for the past year herbal.
I have been fortunate to have spent close to a decade of Wednesday evenings surrounded by this dynamic and caring group as I serve at the Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic, a free foot clinic for our friends on the street. The members of this community have been a tremendous influence on my work and my heart. Their encouragement and support allowed me to take on the challenges of promoting an integrative approach at the foot clinic and also to dare to dream of a free mobile clinic we now call the Herb Bus.
There is a saying at the Open Door, “We’re gonna do the best we can until we can’t.” These are simple words that make a profound point. When we are facing what seems a difficult journey, when we don’t know how we can achieve the change that we know needs to happen, this phrase reminds us that we don’t have to have all the answers, we just have to do our best. And while we are out there, giving what we can, we will be creating the community that is capable of even greater things.
Each year the SouthEast Women’s Herbal Conference sets up camp at Lake Eden outside of Black Mountain, NC. Over 1000+ women and children attend this 3 day event in the early fall. Our First Aid Center is tasked with providing earth-based care for this temporary village. All of our services and remedies are offered free. For many, a visit to our clinic facilitates their first healing experience with herbal medicine, illuminating the vital link between true health and nature. We had over 100 visits to the center and also made a few “cabin calls.”
Our clinic is hostessed by graduates from the Appalachia School of Holistic Herbalism (ASHH) located in West Asheville, NC. I have had the honor both serving and coordinating this clinic for the past several years and share with you some pictures from this year’s clinic. I have also been working on a mini-manual filled with information on how we staff, stock, and provide this type of clinic for those who may be inspired to do the same in their neck of the woods. It is available as a PDF on the Herbalista website. www.Herbalista.org
To see more from this clinic, check out our gallery of photos:
Standing at the crossroads where the fruits fade, the leaves begin to fall, and the bright air is tinged with chill, I see why this month is dedicated to our giving thanks. We need this warming of the heart, a chance to feed the flame that it can burn bright through the dark winter. And as I quietly sit in gratitude for the many blessings my family, community, and planet have provided, I cannot help but be haunted by guilt and indignation– for these blessings are not equally bestowed. Many go without for the benefit of a few, their deficit the requirement of another’s bounty. But we can use this incendiary truth to stoke our burning resolve to transform the status quo. I use it to fuel the Herb Bus, spreading health and wellness, one remedy at a time. I use it to warm the foot baths at the Harriet Tubman Foot Clinic, soothing the feet of our friends on the street. And as I work towards this more loving and just community, the indignation is transformed yet again into gratitude– that I am able to give. I am reminded of the lyrics of “Given To,” a song by Ruth Berbermeyer.
I never feel more given to than when you take from me –
when you understand the joy I feel giving to you.
And you know my giving isn’t done to put you in my debt,
but because I want to live the love I feel for you.
To receive with grace may be the greatest giving.
There’s no way I can separate the two.
When you give to me, I give you my receiving.
When you take from me, I feel so given to.
Thank you friends and strangers, who fill my world with purpose and love.
~ Herbalista Lorna
(from her musings on a gold-rimmed and smoke scented autumn)