I live at the very end of a dirt road in the mountains, where my husband and I are full-time volunteers on a non-profit homestead run by the family living in the house to which our current apartment is attached. I am tired almost from the moment I wake up in the morning, and if my muscles don't ache when I crawl out of bed, they almost certainly do by the time I crawl back in. And yet, I don't want to be anywhere else right now. For the first time in a very long time, I feel like I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.
When I finish working for the day, even though I'm exhausted and the work is never truly done (it is a farm, after all), I don't feel compelled to throw a frozen dinner in the the oven and drop on the couch, or simply crawl under a rock and disappear. These are things that I felt in the past several years, while working office jobs, but I don't feel them now. Now, I am excited about the kitchen again. I walk into the apartment after digging and hoeing and mulching and sweating, ready to experiment with strawberry bread or figure out what to make for supper using asparagus and wilting arugula. Or, a constant battle, how many different ways I can use eggs (we have 37 laying hens in our backyard...).
I have been saying "I want to farm" for years, and sometimes the longing grew so strong that it became an ache within my soul. But recently I have been questioning that. Is farming a feasible occupation for me? Do I even want to do it anymore? Then I came here, and I know that this is my purpose. Every aching muscle tells me that I am feeding hungry people, and that is a beautiful thing.
I look out my window and see chickens, squirrels, and songbirds; I turn and smile at the solar panel providing our home with renewable energy. And at night, sometimes, I can open the back door and listen to barred owls calling to each other like howler monkeys.
My weeks are filled with planning, digging, and growing gardens. And my Sunday worship consists of volunteering at the local food distribution, where my low-income neighbors "shop" through a smorgasbord of items that the grocery store rejected and, thankfully, donated to our humble cause. I am not a people person -- not by far -- but as these souls wander through the fellowship hall, cheerfully loading up their grocery bags, we smile and greet each other and discuss the virtues of different kinds of bread. We laugh over spilled grape tomatoes rolling across the floor, and stoop to pick them up. The kind woman who dropped them takes the package anyway -- they'll be good as new after a thorough rinsing, she points out.
I'm not at all where I thought I'd be right now, but I'm exactly where I belong. God has a purpose for each of us. This is mine.