“Work is love made visible” these words of Kahlil Gibran were carved by hand onto a wooden sign that hung on the main lodge of my beloved Vermont summer camp, Farm & Wilderness. This was a place where teens from all walks of East coast life would come together for 2 months to work the land, swim in the waters and learn to create community together. As my dad reminded me yesterday, not only have those words been carved into my soul & life purpose, but also the community spirit. In the years since summer camp I have found myself surrounded with similar earth loving angels actively loving the world & each other through their hands
. They came smiling and laughing, eager to spend the day in the sunshine with me and my tomatoes.
Not only did they work, but they sang, told stories and charmed the baby & us all while doing so.
There were parents, neighbors, old friends and new, this incredible little hard-working crew just breezed in with great blessings and warmed our little home until it sang right along. In return dad cooked the burgers & freshly picked ‘Lovely Day Farm’ (on our street!!) Asparagus on the grill and we feed them well. When I sent out the invite I mentioned that I would feed them all but ‘if any one wanted to ‘WOW’ us with desert or beverages they were welcome’ and WOW us they did! Handmade Mojitos and Fresh Pear Pie and Raspberry Tart and homemade yogurt on top!! OH MY!!!
And now the greenhouse is at maximum capacity with 250 tomatoes, all in brand new little pots, the only question now is, where will I put everything else? Plant sale anyone?
I almost felt guilty having them do all that work for me on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, but then I remembered all the seeds I have sown, beds I have dug, weeds I have pulled out of other people’s gardens and like them, I sang too… so happy to have dirt to put my hands in and a hard task to put my strong body to real use. As we were working Jaengy jumped in helping with sorting the pots after shying from the crowd for the first hour.
I commented how he is happiest when he has a job to do. Casey responded, “I think we all are!” and I thought, ‘Well you are my kind of people!’ So Thank You garden angels with your kind and helpful hands, you have shown me that there should be no guilt in asking for help and that for many of us there is no greater gift than working together to complete the task at hand, to share the load and to enjoy being of use together.
To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Wonderful! So happy to be getting my hands in the dirt after this long winter. We have 50 little strawberry plants to pick up and get in the ground, plus our little turkeys are arriving this weekend. Yes, the work of world is common as mud, but garden angels are not! It looks like a wonderful time was had by all. Bright blessings.
So glad to see a kindred spirit sprouting along with us in NC! Happy Spring over there.
“When the work was finally done, and the food was gone, we gathered whatever strength we had left for the snowy trek back out of the woods, energized by a job well done, but weary from the doing. As we stomped the snow from our boots I read with new appreciation the hand-carved sign on the lodge wall with the words from Kahlil Gibran, ‘Work is love made visible'”.
From “Ice Cutting”, Friends Journal, February 1992