Jumping in

My first full week at Adamah has been amazing, challenging, eye and heart-opening, laughter-filled, dirty, awe-inspiring, and all-around BEAUTIFUL :). 

Today while working in the field, while sweating with dirty knees through challenging physical work, I thought of this poem that I read before my freshman year of college – “To Be of Use”:

To Be of Use

by Marge Piercy

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.

I have found this poem enlightening and inspiring since I first heard it years ago, but I have never felt so literally, physically connected to its meaning.  The work that we are doing here does indeed feel very REAL at every moment of the day.  We start by waking up before dawn for an hour of mindfulness/meditation/prayer called “Avodat Lev,” work of the heart.  We spend most of the rest of the day collecting eggs from our chickens that we will eat for breakfast, harvesting onions that will be cooked for communal meals in the dining hall, digging, and weeding, and schlepping, and building things that provide direct sustenance to our community. In the evenings we discuss how to better live in community with each other. Or study Jewish text.  Have a dance party.  Maybe pray more.  It. feels. SO. REAL. 

A smattering of the tasks we (our cohort of 15 rad Jewish 20 and 30 somethings from across the US – and two from Israel!) have already begun in the past week or so we have been here includes:

  • Hiking up a mountain, being temporarily blindfolded, and having our blindfolds removed while the hebrew words “pokeach ivrim!” (gives sight to the blind) were shouted and we opened our eyes to the most beautiful mountain overlook 
  • Biking 135 miles in two days for the NYC Hazon bike ride
  • Jumping in a beautiful lake for a shabbat mikvah (ritual cleansing immersion before shabbat)
  • Learning to maintain large-scale compost 
  • Cleaning chicken poop
  • Harvesting THE LARGEST TRUCKLOAD OF ONIONS I HAVE EVER SEEN IN ONE PLACE 
  • Preparing cucumbers for pickling
  • Singing while weeding for hours 
  • Cooking breakfast with fresh chicken eggs 
  • Preparing shabbat meals and rituals for an amazingly diverse group of people who already feel like family 

I can’t wait to see what further joys, challenges, and growth await us all as we continue on this journey together.  I feel we’re off to a great start, and I hope to continue relishing every moment of searching for and carrying out the work that is real.  

Shabbat shalom, and much love!  

Fall 2014 Our kick-tuchus group of Adamah fellows, mentors, and teachers