Work is love made visible. — Khalil Gibran
This is the sentence that was scrawled in red crayon, loose cursive on the wall of a second-story bedroom in the house we now call home. It was motivation as we tore down ceiling tiles in order to empty the attic of a spicy combination of insulation and bird, snake and mice poop. This is love, we could say, as we put on the face masks and the protective suits, preparing for the filth to shower down on us. This is love, we could say, when we crawled under the eave of the attic on a mid-July day to staple in the soffits. This is love, we could say, when the mountain of junk under the back overhang seemed larger, stronger, the winner of our fight for the reclamation of space.
And work is love made visible when carrying pruning shears on a hike in the woods, giving every green, thorny stem of multi-flora rose a snip, every tenacious vine of poison ivy a solid slash through the middle. This is love for my own skin and yours. For our future enjoyment, for our ability to walk through the woods without suffering from rashes, for the trees to grow unencumbered by vines.
Work doesn’t always feel like love. In our “new” home, with my children, I wash the dishes without thinking of love. I sweep the floor. I throw soiled sheets into the washer and scrub the toilet. I do not think of love, but I know it is there in the tending of things.
Lately, I have felt a new love blooming as I watch small chicks grow out of the brooder and learn to inhabit the coop and play in their run. Something akin to love has grown while tending the okra, the tomatoes, the peppers, and all the plants that we’ve put in the ground. Every morning, I go outside and I watch the morning sky while I check on the onions and pull a few weeds. Sometimes I’m startled by a painted box turtle making is way around the chicken coop. I’m watching the leaves on the trees open up and reveal, in some cases, their identity. A crooked tree by the prayer circle has finally sprouted a mulberry leaf.
When we felt a call to come into a deeper relationship with the natural world, I wasn’t sure what that relationship would feel like. I’m getting the sense that living out here in this way is opening my heart to understand and love and learn from new beings. When we sit in the prayer circle in silence or open our mouths to sing, the trees and the birds and the sky pray along with us. I feel a presence.
One afternoon, when I was feeling that our work out here is rather insignificant (which, perhaps it is 🙂 I took time to articulate again what it is we are here to do. It helped me root down into the purpose of all the energy that we are putting into this place.
What is our work out here at Common Home Farm?
- It is to tend the land well – to come into relationship with it in such a way that we know how to help it flourish, that we can receive its gifts and offers ours in return.
- Our work is to pray, to be silent, to be witness to the seasons, the seedlings, the non-human life that in turn is bearing witness to God, to love’s presence in this world.
- Our work is to labor with our bodies, to lift, to shovel, to haul, to struggle with the physical world. To create physical spaces, places, gardens, homes, chapels.
- Our work is to love one another, to speak honestly and directly and kindly. To listen to one another. To give way to one another. To collaborate and create and praise together.
- Our work is to offer respite, peace, rest, and space to guests of all kinds. Our work is a practice of radical sharing of space, time, food, and love with all.
- Our work is to practice the Works of Mercy. To stay engaged with the marginalized, with the struggles for justice and peace that are happening all around us. To give of our time and energy for the uplift of others.
We hope you’ll be able to join us in our work – it’s better together!