Letting Love In
How Camphill opened my heart to farm living, dance parties, and the gifts we each bring to community life.
By Sarah Marie Cushing
I came to Camphill Grangemockler after two years living in a L'Arche community in America.
Due to some personal issues, I had made the decision to take some time away from that family.
I ended up at Grangemockler because after many months of learning how to take care of myself again, I was ready to re-enter community living.
I came to this foreign land with no expectations, only the desire to remain open.
I never would have imagined that 8 months would be enough to find and fall in love with a new family.
I arrived at the airport completely exhausted, lost, and full of hope.
'I have no idea where that is.' The words I heard when I told someone in the Dublin airport where I was headed.
That's when I knew I was going to some place beautiful. I was so excited to be out in the middle of nowhere! And really, out in the middle of Ireland, is not even close to 'nowhere.'
My first few days were full of fear, cleaning, accents I couldn't understand, tea breaks, and names of people and houses I feared I would never properly pronounce.
I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but one day I woke up and it was no longer my job, my community. It had become a home.
I came to this community aware of my deep love and gratitude for life with individuals with disabilities. It is a gift that has continually allowed me to see more clearly my strengths and weaknesses. A gift that has opened new places in my heart. A gift that brings me to people I would never choose to be in my life.
Camphill Grangemockler reaffirmed all those gifts while also giving some new perspective.
I found myself in a home with very different dynamics than I was used to. Many of the individuals were more independent and I found myself with free time that I really didn't know what to do with!
As I slowly fell into a routine that varied between cleaning, garden work, cooking, and working in the community larder, I began to see one gift unique to this community, the shared work.
In my previous community experience I did not have opportunities to share work with those I lived with. We each had our role but often the individuals left the community for their jobs.
Camphill was a beautiful reminder of the community that forms when our work requires us to depend on one another.
Maybe I clean the bathrooms, and you harvest the carrots, and someone else empties the compost and piggy buckets.
Each role is different but equally important to maintain our homes.
Even after 8 months I wouldn't say cleaning bathrooms was my favourite task, but I did learn to love it!
There is immense beauty in doing what needs to be done; in learning to let go of what you think would be helpful and giving whatever is asked. It is humbling, often exhausting, and full of blessings we don't see until much later.
As I settled into life with my Teach Solas family, I felt my heart open again.
I never imagined it would happen so fast.
Water fights with a toy piggy, singing at the TOP of your lungs, crying tears of joy when you realize all the love that happens at airport arrivals gates, scaring the cows with your 'boo's!'
These people know how to live.
They are surrounded by beautiful landscapes, a brilliantly sarcastic and loving handy man, and the ability to just be what they are.
I will be forever grateful for their commitment to making a community a true home.
While I no longer reside there, my heart knows for certain that they have found a home within me.
I carry them with me into these days of confusion, joy, and the ever present challenge to love what we are and to give that love freely to those who fill our days.
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