I feel like a whole bunch of people I care about are hurting right now. All around, our community suffers from grief, confusion, aimlessness, emptiness, loss, and pain. Be patient, friends. Have faith. Have faith in each other, in our human community, and in the bright and beautiful future ahead. Ask for help, and trust each other.
Let me share an example of faith and community.
Five years ago this month, we moved into a little rental house in the village of Randolph, after selling our house of close to 16 years. In order to sell that house, we did some cleaning, threw items in storage, got it listed with a realtor, and made a handshake deal with our next-door neighbors. Larry, Sr. looked around, nodded his head and said, “yep, most likely going to buy the place”. That was May. We didn’t talk about it again until September.
In the mean time, we moved forward. We threw out eight(!) heaping pickup truckloads of old boxes, trash, books and toys for the thrift store, and built a mountain of scrap metal and items to leave by the roadside for neighbors to take freely. At a particular moment in the summer, we had to decide whether a modest windfall from Chris’ job would be used to buy our winter wood (the usual choice), or we would have faith that the house would sell and we could invest the money in other bills and other places. We stepped off the cliff without the net of firewood for the winter. It created a hard deadline.
We had no idea where we would be able to rent, and we had no idea where our sheep would live. We thought we would be in a place just temporarily while our land sold and we moved to the new farm we had picked out as *the* place (it wasn’t). I investigated several options for the sheep to move elsewhere; nothing fit our budget so we decided to keep looking for a different option.
If you are reading this blog and have followed our story at all, you know we ultimately found the right farm, and are working diligently to share a space of home and family and community and good food and lively music with the person reading this post, and more people like you.
This post isn’t just about good things happening in our particular life, it’s about having faith in humanity and community, and believing deep down in our hearts that things will be OK.
Our move from the old place is a shining example of that.
Our neighbors honored their handshake on an “as-is” property, which totally could have gone sideways. An acquaintance of 20 years connected us with her husband’s rental opportunity (and we grew closer by sharing some very pivotal life moments together). A friend of my dad’s from high school came to join us in painting the rental house, just because he was between painting jobs and had time. Our son had the support of his friends as we bounced between awkward living situations. Our family squeezed itself into a teeny rental to celebrate Thanksgiving as we collapsed after a marathon move.
Turned out, we didn’t didn’t need the wood, but we did need all the help we could get, and were grateful for it. There were plenty of slips and slides, but in every case, someone stepped in to help in some way.
That pretty much describes our experience in finding and buying the Tilton farm as well, except that we stopped denying our faith in the future and started asking for help on the heavy lift of our life’s dream. At first it was so hard to ask. That’s not the way we were raised, except that community *is* a way of life in rural Vermont. That’s how farmers got harvests in. It just was, and there was no shame in asking, especially when people or animals would starve otherwise. Community can’t happen, can’t grow, can’t build success…unless someone asks, “can you help me?” and someone else answers, “yes, what can I do?”.
So, as awkward as it was at first, when people asked if they could help move or paint or truck animals, we said yes. We asked for help with a financial shortfall—something we would *never* have dared do before. Every time we asked for help and someone did, we helped build their faith in people, too. See, helping people is what builds community over the long term. Helping other people makes US feel good. I’m coming to learn that not asking is a way of robbing someone *else* of feeling good.
This morning, I remembered a particular example to illustrate this last point. Several years ago, we met a new barbecue friend. He saw me hauling heavy equipment out of the trailer and rushed to help me. See, his parents raised him to always offer help, especially to a lady (his words). Me, I pushed away his help, because I saw myself as a strong farmer and an independent woman. Who won out of this situation? No one.
I hurt my new friend’s feelings by rejecting his kind offer, and I was more tired than I would have otherwise been if I’d accepted his help. It took me some time to see it, but I’ve learned that accepting help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of openness and a way to help others feel useful and appreciated.
If you are hurting or struggling, my experience has been this:
The most powerful act of faith we can exercise is to let our community help us.
The most powerful action we can take to build a positive future…is to ask for that help.
Thanks for listening,