Week 2 – Don’t curse the rain!!
They say in Israel, “Don’t curse the rain, because the Kinneret is small.” Such a beautiful sentiment, and a reminder that contrary to the way most of us live our lives, the natural elements affect all of us and our ability to exist.
The other day I was harvesting potatoes. Now, the way you harvest potatoes is: let the plant die, and once it is fully rotted, get on your hands and knees. Next, excavate the nuggets of dirty, starchy gold with your hands, digging deep, searching wide, as the earth hardens in the spaces beneath your fingernails. Some people get acrylic tips on their nails, but I go for the more natural look.
So there we were harvesting potatoes, the dirt was getting everywhere and we were finding hundreds of potatoes, feeling like we were on an archaeological mission jumping for joy every time we uncovered something exciting. The group decided to do 10 minutes of silent harvest to be truly present in our motions, but then… the heavens opened and rain began to pour down on our joyous excavation. Conscious not to curse the rain and respect the silence, we kept going. However, after 7 minutes a cheeky Australian accent broke the silence when I said, “Are we going to address the fact that all this dirt is now mud?” Oh yeah. As if a teacher had called recess, we all got up and went for shelter.
I found myself cursing the rain. That was until the next day, when I arrived at the fields as the sun was taking its full shape in the sky and saw the small and delicate sprouting of the turnip seeds we’d planted just a few days earlier; turns out a little bit of rain was all they needed to soak into the earth and germinate. I will never curse the rain again… at least until my tent leaks during a thunderstorm.
It’s been a busy second week here on the farm, and all the challenges of last week have quickly become routine, and, with that, a lot easier and more familiar. Once you have done something once, the thought of doing it again really isn’t so bad, and once you realise you are not made of glass, it is easier to pick yourself up and keep going.
The highlight of the week has been Shabbat, and not because it means the work is over, but rather because the chance to rest the body and mind is a welcomed treat which makes the work that much more meaningful. The feeling of waking up on Saturday morning knowing I have no schedule forces me to appreciate the difference and to reflect on the previous 6 days.
My life in Sydney is busy and my days full, and though I don’t weed plants or harvest potatoes, I spend most of my time at a desk working and I bring on the weekend feeling fulfilled and excited for a break. There is something different, though, about working with your hands, cultivating the land for 6 days, sending your body to the brink of exhaustion, and then on the seventh day sitting for a meal made entirely by the fruits of your labour, the produce you harvested. It makes the prayers more meaningful and the gratitude more earnest when you sit down with friends to welcome the rest. I don’t think I have ever experienced a Shabbat quite like the ones I have had here during this experience. Here, I think less about the practices of what I do on Shabbat, but rather the reasons I enjoy the rest so much by looking back on the days before; sometimes I can focus too much on what I do with my time off rather than being proud of the things that earned me that time in the first place.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Well, this Shabbat, I went on my first ever trip to Walmart. Capitalism is a religion here in the states so I spent the holy day in its church and oh my word, what an experience. An Australian K-mart on steroids! I went in to get a much needed pillow, and only once I was in there did I realise how poorly I had packed my one rucksack for 3 months. I was not prepared for the cold much like I was not prepared for my Walmart excursion. I came out of there after what felt like days with long sleeve shirts, cotton buds, flannels, soap bars and my new pride and joy: a brand new nasal douche (all this new pollen is slowly killing me).
I was in the belly of the beast of consumerism, a place that seemed to lack any consciousness of how the items even got there in the first place, a total disregard for the natural world and its resources. Now, this place may not seem like the most holy way to spend a Shabbat, but it’s in those moments I found even greater pride and purpose in how I spent this past week working the land in a sustainable way. But look, I also just really needed a pillow, a pile of dirty socks wrapped in a T-shirt just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.
See you next week,
To catch Part 1 click here