What do you do after a long day of concrete-making?

…You learn that a machete is actually much harder to work with than it appears–pick axes, too, are much harder than I’d ever imagined.

The ancient supervisor who was guiding us, showed the teens how to use machetes: to watch him work them, you would think that machetes were simplistic yet sharp.  When I finally put my hand to the machete, I was stymied.  It was awkward and the bending over to swish it as you flicked your arm/wrist quickly resulted in a painful back.

Machetes, however, match nicely with this entry from my journal: “All of life is about being born–birthing into our fullness of being. When you come into rhythm with your nature, things happen of themselves.” See, the thing about machetes, is that as you use them in the correct way, as you use the stick to gather the grass so you can swipe at the roots, you come into rhythm. It’s the rhythm of the machete, of machete-ness. And, let me tell you, it’s a sweet rhythm: grass piles up in the clumps that we see in the United States, usually leftover from lawnmowers; the swing of your arm and your body align into motion that’s seamless.  This was the same motion from the concrete buckets assembly line of the day before, a motion that my body knew, even though I’d never ever picked up a machete or swung concrete buckets.  And in that smooth motion, is a sweet spot of productivity, of ease, of quality. Continue reading

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What can top concrete? Machetes.

Jennifer and me holding the machetes after a day’s work!

Thursday (for those of you keeping track) we worked with children in the morning and machetes in the afternoon.  First, let me tell you a bit about machetes.

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C: one would think that machetes would be few and far between, and yet, we were familiar with them. Ask any of my family members.  There was a day when we say one man chase another out of his home, and then down the street, waving a machete at the first man, screaming “I’m going to kill you.”   No big deal, right?

That was my machete-exposure.  All I knew was that scene, and that machetes looked cool and tough.  Right? Check back tomorrow to read about my actual machete experience while on the trip.

The area where we had worked on the roof was a walled-in complex: the partially completed building would be a classroom, and then the rest of the area would be a play area.  Only difficulty–it was covered with weeds, grass, bricks, trash, and other sundries.  The tasks for cleaning it were divided into several groups of the teenagers–some were to clear grass, some were to transport trash to the back corner (where the supervisor had started a fire), some were to move sand from Paso a Paso to our location. Continue reading