by Lara Struckman
Entry 1: June 4 2021
Being on this land for the past two weeks, I feel as though I have inhaled for the first time. “Ahh, this is what community is like,” my sweet breath says. These first few weeks of living and working as part of Common Ground Ecovillage have in many ways been a dream. I was met upon arrival with a warm and hearty welcome. Walking into the bustling barn that would become my new residence was intimidating at first but quickly became familiar and communal. Surrounded by a stunning array of green textures and hues, a guardian persimmon tree, and a sprightly pair of Carolina wren who visit me daily, beaks full, on my personal observation perch. I have been finding fulfillment both in simplicity and solitude as well as in the vibrant communal gatherings and passing conversations. I have been welcomed into the Nest for nourishing dinners and throughout the first week I was struck by the generosity of this community through the ways so many checked in on me, made sure I had what I needed, and were willing to chip in what they could to make here feel like home.
I worked long days in the garden until the burning sun kissed the western horizon and I loved it. I relished in the way we kept time only by the amount of daylight left and not by watch or clock. I enjoyed using my body in service to that which is meaningful, getting to meet the crops and sing songs of praise and gratitude for their abundance and their thriving. On the more technical side of things, the first pages of my notebook are already filled with rememberings and teachings from Doug, Caleb, Margaret, and Jeffry. I am inspired by the way all of them work so diligently and calmly even amidst the trials and hinderences inherently present in this type of work.
The climax of community this week was surely the Memorial Day workday and moving up ceremony celebration on Saturday. Never have I been swept up in such a swell of sincerity, generosity, and loving workfullness. The connections were abundant, the food nourishing, and the gratitude palpable. My heart was touched through witnessing the outpouring of love and admiration towards Jeffry and Margaret in their moving up ceremony, recognizing their new level of engagement and commitment to the community. This was an excellent entry point into not only the grit and dedication of the community, but also the heart and soul.
I tucked all these moments and more into my back pocket to save them for the times of less serendipity that will undoubtedly ensue. I was surprised however, that one of those moments happened very soon after. When I felt the culture shock of venturing out to Food Lion for groceries after only a week in an intentional community, I realized both the richness of these experiences and how strongly I yearn for them to be the norm in our society rather than reserved only for those few who seek it out.
As I embark on the next 6 months here, it feels important to spend some time reflecting on why it is I am here and respond to what many have asked me so far which is what I hope to learn or receive from this experience. I said “yes” to this internship in part because I knew it would push me not only to grow both in my knowledge and experience of farming but also as a whole person. This intention has already been supported by the fact that in just 10 days I already feel in many ways changed. It is as if layers of noise are beginning to peel away to reveal an innate sense of belonging. Belonging to life, to myself, to others, and to land.