So, I have recovered from my trip to Nazareth Farm.
I returned home on Saturday exhausted and fuzzy but spent the last few days processing and spending time with my love. I wasn’t super excited to head back to the farm…it’s not an easy trip as you are not only leaving home for a week with people you have never met, it’s giving up the usual tech stuff that has become the norm for us but also showers on a regular basis, meat, choosing your bedtime and knowing what time it is.
Service can be tough. Community can be tough. Simplicity can be tough. All these factors mixed together can be tough.
Yet at the same time, I witnessed miracles.
Giving up means (hopefully) eventually you get it. What “it” is…depends on the person.
This was not my first trip to the farm so I had an idea what would be happening but I never know what my purpose is with each trip until I am well into the week. When we first arrived all these people come flooding out yelling “Welcome home!” and taking our suitcases. We were directed into sleeping quarters in the house and told where to drop off snacks. The picking of the bunks commenced and the introductions to other weary eyed adults that have spent hours driving slumbering teens.
The first few days are overwhelming: bodies detoxing from crappy diets while eating organic farm raised foods…only a helping of meat the entire week in the sausage gravy of the Wednesday breakfast. Waking up at daylight to farm chores. The first day of worksites: Nazareth Farm is a non-profit providing much needed home repair to those who cannot afford traditional means. The farm also incorporates community principles meaning we hang out with the homeowners, invite them to eat lunch with us and encourage them to share their stories.
For a person who has never experienced poverty in person, working on a home in disrepair can be eye opening. The farm takes them to these places to serve…to see the face of poverty, look it in the eyes and reach out to it, speaking in kindness. There were some kids who had never seen a house in bad shape before, let alone use their bathroom or speak with someone in pain. The young people were timid in different areas and I as a chaperon was there to work on the home repair yes, but for me chaperoning in such a case is more, it’s teaching & encouragement, it’s helping maintain focus on worksites(herding cats) and most of all showing a young person how to speak with someone. In every minute of my time at Naz farm, I was a model of behavior and I not knowing my purpose before I came in… but 2015 handed me purpose often. I was actually handed a small stone with the word community on it, and that became my goal: modeling building community in a kind, loving way to all the young people.
I have found it is easy to teach someone how to run a circular saw or hammer a nail into a roof but to teach speaking without judgement to a stranger, that was trickier. I had many opportunities over the week to speak with homeowners, their families and neighbors while dragging kids along with me until they started to shift. This is where I saw the miracles, in the shifts of the kids when they started to get “it” and for each of them it was life changing. Just as I discovered my purpose they began paying attention to the epiphanies raining down upon them. Some of them spoke with homeless folks at the local shelter, some of them pushed through fear of re-injuring themselves to get up on the roof anyway, some of them witnessed what generosity is in the stories of how one lady bought her house after an abusive relationship, some realized that the best conversation was in person and not with a phone, some made rye bread with their own hands,some were given a hard talking to one day and showed up the next with their butterfly wings.
Miracles aren’t always a story in a lofty ancient tome, in fact, they’re in front of you everyday.
Once the shifts hit, the whole world is transformed. Everyone looks and speaks to another with love and kindness, high fives and giggles.
The other reason I believe I was there was to show everyone(adults too) that everything, even composting, can be hilarious. One of my favorite kids and I spent a morning weeding and planting lettuce. This was my last trip with this young person and we had spent the last four years laughing and having the most fun everywhere we went. We excitedly weeded and began discussing the excitement that all the lettuce in the garden would one day to grow up and be delicious lettuce wraps….not only would the people of the land be fed but also dancing with gratitude and all the deliciousness of the lettuce. Now, just to let you know, this was a very early morning and we were cackling and dancing in excitement not paying a bit of attention to our surroundings. After a particular fun bit of lettuce dancing we stopped, noticing that all around us, the other staff and students were staring at us.
This made us laugh harder.
Covered in compost, crying with laughter, Maggie and I went in for breakfast with glee. Later in the week we would end up inside a chicken coop laughing just as hard. I tell you, honest to God, everything can be fun.
As the week went on many would come up to me commenting on my laughter and giggling and I told them I wrote this blog, because you can always have fun. Even in the face of poverty. Because having fun is loving life, despite your circumstances… if you love your life then all that other stuff doesn’t matter as much. Love, kindness, community…all these big gushy wonderful parts of life are yours if you allow them, it has nothing to do with your wallet and that’s the best part, you can always give freely of these ideals.
You can always be happy, because you choose it so.
Thank you great Universe for all my blessings, shifts and delicious lettuce wraps and I hope for you all that you too can feel it, give it and live it.
Many blessings on you friends!
If you are interested in learning more about Nazareth Farm check out www.nazarethfarm.org