Chore as spiritual opportunity

October 12, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Posted in adamahniks, goats, spirituality | Leave a comment

Shamu made a comment early on in our program that we need a better name for chores, since chore sounds like a burden, whereas he really sees these as opportunities. At first I wrote that off as romantic flim-flammery, but the now that I’m into my third chore, I’ve realized that each one really has been a blessing. Aside from the pragmatic aspect of learning about various farming operations, these chores have been pleasures that I’ve really looked forward to doing each day.
When I was on chicken chore, even though it cut into my breakfast time, and pulled me away from my pre-Shabbat routine on Friday evenings, I still felt very grateful to be able to spend time with the birds each day. I often found myself reluctant to leave after I’d let them out and fed them in morning, lingering to watch them peck at their food and dig through the compost, and to look at the rooster looking at me warily, placing himself as much as possible between me and his harem.
After that, I had the privilege of taking out compost from the dining hall to the chickens, which I didn’t get to do that many times, due to travel and illness, but this too provided another chance to watch the chickens, and also the opportunity to drive Adamah’s very large, very rickety pickup truck.
Now I’m doing evening milking, which has been the biggest challenge and the biggest treat of all so far. Each day I get to spend some quality time with several goats of our fifteen milking goats. It’s nice to feel like I’m working together with these animals (and my fellow milkers) to get a job done. Just as with human collaborators, I have to be attentive to their feelings, and make sure they have what they need (grain in their bowl, clean, dry teats, a loving, patient, firm touch) to be able to do their job, at the same time that I’m working on doing my end of things. I’m noticing how each day, I’m not only getting better at the technical aspects of milking, but I’m also getting little better at reading the goats’ body language, and responding to their mood and their needs. This chore really is a spiritual opportunity, and one that I look forward to each day. Shamu was right.

-Submitted by Garth Silberstein Fall Adamah 2011

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