Recently, I have found myself caught in the bustle of summer. It seems the world is flying by at the speed of sound, and I am grabbing what I can, when I can. Although each day brings new excitement, the pace sometimes gets daunting. It is probably why I am sitting down to pen this blog a week later than I should have. I sit at my desk, after a busy day, and look ahead and get this overwhelming sense of dread. Anytime, I use the word “dread” I can’t help but recollect on a reading from my dear friend, Wendell Berry.
In a keynote address at the end of a tremendous locally sourced meal prepared by Quita Michel, Wendell shared with us his musings of food, the environment, and agriculture. Midway through his talk, Wendell Berry was asked what his favorite part of farming was, his reply, simply, dread. He went on to explain how dreading the work often times leads to a miraculous feeling of accomplishment and hours upon hours finding joy in what you were dreading.
Regardless of my love for Agriculture, there are days I dread tending to my livestock on my own farm. Sometimes the day at the office was too long, its cold, its rainy, or I just become to content and comfortable in my recliner after dinner, the dread sinks in. But as always, I find myself doing my evening chores, sometimes midnight chores, and drift away into the human silence of the barn. Listening to the goats munch, the rabbits drink, and always end up spending time just being surrounded by my passion. What I dreaded so, quickly becomes my safe haven, my escape, my happy place. Since hearing this profound notion, I realize dread may be my favorite part of life. Whether I am dreading going back to work after a few days off, checking momma goats at 2:00am, or writing a blog, once you get into it, you find the rhythm that soothes the soul and that dread turns into accomplishment and joy.
Work here at Pine Mountain Settlement School, sometimes comes with that same dread. The spring here was brutal, with the rush back to normalcy coupled with a new and scantly staff, made for a hope of a calmer summer. Well… I think we love to tell ourselves, things slow down next month, and in reality, it really doesn’t. But we muster the strength each day to face that dread and that bustle and soon it is our accomplishment and joy. Last week, on top of the normal form and function of the school, we certainly accomplished a lot. My joy was found over and over again, but the most memorable was our Food Preservation class.
I walked into the commercial kitchen, running from a youth painting class, to find it filled to the brim with the families involved in our Grow Appalachia program. To hear the laughter, feel the community, and listen to men and women, young and old, share their experience, give tips and tricks, and just be completely engulfed in communicating with their neighbors was worth it all. A day filled with 40 plus students in a day camp, with a short break before a youth and adult art class series, running simultaneously with Grow Appalachia, certainly was full of dread, but as always that dread turned to joy and turned to good.