We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal… and that there will always, ALWAYS, be raking of leaves at Fall Work Camp at the Episcopal Conference Center. Always.
I’m sure you’ve seen the above scene before, or some version of it (well, maybe not the reverse part – I just couldn’t resist watching him fly backwards out of the pile!). I mean, what’s the point of raking leaves if you don’t take time to jump in them?
I’ll admit that I thought my days of raking leaves at ECC were over. There were a few moments over the course of Fall Work Camp that I had to shake my head and laugh thinking, “How did I GET here??” There are so many wonderful parts about being back at camp, and I feel grateful every single day to be a part of that experience again. But the leaves? Oh boy.
If I’m being honest though, I never really escaped the experience of raking leaves that I had from all those years I was at Fall Work as a camper or counselor. I remember all too well a few years back when Jonathan and I were in North Carolina. Christmas Day was really mild that year, and for reasons that will never be clear to me we decided to spend the afternoon raking the back yard. Even though we lived in an area where there were mostly just pine trees our back yard had a high population of deciduous trees, which we loved because it made us think of home. But the end result, as you can imagine, is that there were piles and piles of leaves. As we raked the leaves onto a tarp to relocate them to another pile somewhere I felt like it had been only days since I had last raked leaves at camp, even though by that point it had been many years.
I think that’s the thing about raking leaves, or about doing any of the various work projects we do at ECC. The experience of the work stays with you. A work ethic stays with you. And suddenly – because of all those years you spent working at camp – you find yourself outside on a holiday raking leaves because somewhere in your delusional brain you think it’s fun. Because, after all, those years you were raking and painting and roofing and gardening at ECC you were with your friends. So it was fun – really, really fun. And that’s how the work becomes…well… not so much like work. And if you’re lucky you grow up and go off and become an adult and realize that as long as you are working side by side with someone you love and finding something to laugh about or a pile of leaves to jump in, then your work really can be fun – Christmas Day kind of fun.
I didn’t have to do anything in the way of convincing our Fall Work participants this year that work is fun. They clearly already knew that. So I just walked around snapping pictures and watching them enjoy one another and the work they were doing for ECC. It was a wonderful weekend – wonderful enough that I can’t even complain about my return to raking. I’ll rake with these folks anytime!