From March 14-20 we welcomed students from Eastern Illinois University (EIU), University of Wisconsin LaCrosse and St. Edward's University in Texas. This being the third week or March Madness, Jamie, Colleen, and I were a little loopy but the volunteers did a great job of being involved and pulling us through.
First, I will apologize for my lack of detail for this week. The aforementioned fatigue meant that I didn't absorb everything as well as I normally did plus the fact that I'm a lazy bum and didn't update this blog for almost a year means the next batch of posts will likely suffer from a dearth of clear recollections.
This week's group was memorable for its interesting make up. First, there was one student and one leader from St. Eds who were graduates of Hoban H.S. in the AK Rowdy. It's no secret that The Farm loves Hobanites, so this was a welcome surprise. St. Ed's is reppin' the cross and anchor of Holy Cross along with Basil Moreau's thousand yard stare, which also was a welcome addition to The Farm.
Secondly, we actually had 2 girls (and a guy who happened to be one of the girl's fiancee but honestly, no one seems to give a crap about the groom at these wedding things) who were preparing to get married in the near future. They were from different schools and so it was a cool thing that they happened to end up as part of the same mission trip to Northeastern Kentucky. Because of my unparallelled laissez faire attitude when it comes to the completion of this blog, both Julie and Lisa (and Kyle, don't worry I appreciate the importance of the groom beyond a wedding cake accessory) have tied the knot. Marital props and snaps go out to you all. Hope you were able to take some of the lessons from The Farm into your respective marriages. If nothing else, you can realize that if your husband or wife doesn't feel like showering for a day or two, it's no big deal.
Thirdly, we had the embodiment of Hanz and Franz that week in Wesley and Dan. Both were lacrosse players and were the outward embodiment of the athlete type with plenty of muscle jokes and Anchorman quotes. I think it's part of the beauty of the Farm that it can welcome volunteers of all types. Some would think the sort of bravado and ridiculousness of these two would be incongruous with service but to believe so would be pretty narrow minded. Service, at its heart, is giving yourself to others. The way in which you do it matters little as long as your heart is in it. And while the guys certainly maintained their outward appearance, I could tell they truly gave of themselves during the week. So proud.
The group from Wisconsin also brought a priest with them, which is always a great thing to have at the Farm. First, as I've mentioned here before, it's great to have the option of Mass in the Chapel since it can really frame a work day and provide a good time for reflection. In addition to giving us the option of mass, priests come with a mindset that is already so attuned to what The Farm is all about. Obviously the various vows of a Priest are very much in line with the charisms of the Farm. So in a sense, having a Priest on board is like having an extra Farm Manager when it comes to making sure the volunteers grasp the charisms. I remember distinctly how during one particular reflection, one of the volunteers began reflecting on the struggle to bring lessons learned during experiences like The Farm back home. Fr. Mark, who followed with his reflection gently reminded her that we were only a few days into our experience. We hadn't even learned everything we needed to from the journey yet, so how could we worry about bringing lessons back with us yet? It was the perfect embodiment of the charism of God's Time living in the present. And the impact of having someone in their own group say it was really very important. Farm Managers tell chaperones before the work week begins that having them buy into the charisms is so much more meaningful to the volunteers that seeing the Farm Managers do it. The volunteers don't know us outside any other context than The Farm but they do know their chaperones outside of Tne Farm. So the chaperones buying into The Farm is a tangible change whereas with the Farm Managers it's status quo.
At the end of this week, the Farm Managers were all ready for a well deserved break. But the mixture of different people in the group was a good reminder to us that The Farm is a special place where people with different backgrounds, pesonalities and places in life can all come together and serve. As long as service remains at the core of what we are doing, The Farm will always be that place of solidarity and community. The people who volunteer are those who shape the weeks but they are united by the desire to serve those who need it.