It was a beautiful late summer day and I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty. Little did I know, how dirty they would get. Arriving at Angelic Organics after a two-hour drive from the city, we parked and found our way to the farmhouse and reported for our day of volunteering at the Community Assisted Agriculture (CSA) where I had been a member for the past couple of years.
After a quick introduction and tour through the rustic living quarters where the interns on the farm lived, they quickly put us to work picking tomatoes. There were about a dozen volunteers and we all were given a row to pick up tomatoes from the ground (the tomatoes had already actually been picked) and put them on a conveyor belt that went the length of the field. It took the fruit to the truck at the end of the rows where other volunteers took them off the belt and put them gently into bushel baskets. The sun shone brightly, and the sweat began to pour. Up and down, up and down, we did this for about two hours.
The farmers knew how to handle us city folk, for after that we got to sit, rinse and pack the different lettuces that had been picked by another group of volunteers. After a brief respite for lunch it was back to the fields where we struggled with pulling weeds that didn’t want to leave their well-entrenched turfs. We finally ended the day by packing boxes for members that were loaded into a large refrigerated truck for delivery the next morning. Returning home that night, my body ached and it ached not only for that night but for the next week as well but I felt good.
Give me the courage and strength Lord to do the job I am called for in Your Kingdom, whether it is as shepherd, farmer, teacher, or mother… Like Jacob in today’s first scripture selection, who willingly “contended with divine and human beings” (GN 32:29) or your son Jesus in today’s Gospel selection, who “went around to all the towns and villages, teaching…proclaiming the Gospel…curing every disease and illness. (MT 9:35)
Dan O’Donnell is a Passionist Partner and a longtime friend of the Passionists. He lives in Chicago.