Get Your Hands Dirty! – A Yogi’s Take on Selfless Service

Recently, I was faced with a challenge. I am passionate about gardening and local organic food, as well as educating young people about the world around them so they can become stewards of the earth. After listening to a recent episode of The Urban Farm Podcast which focused on Tonyehn Verkitis, owner of Eco-Arts Living and board member of The Greenhouse Project in Blakely, PA, I was inspired to combine my two passions. This woman saw a need, wrote a grant, and began the work of building a more knowledgeable community through growing plants. How could I bring a similar service to my own community? With the world wide web as my guide, I began the initial step of researching.

What I found was other people in my community, and abroad, with a similar idea. To my relief, I didn’t have to start from scratch, there was already an infrastructure set in place to connect the community with information on gardening and local healthy foods. This nonprofit is already successfully running with community support and volunteers abound. What could my role be in helping this movement? Volunteering my time and talents in any way possible was only a click away- the internet is truly amazing!

After submitting my name, number, and talents I was left to wait. I remembered a lesson learned not too long ago, action isn’t always instant and nothing which comes quick is as gratifying as those which take a concerted effort. As I wait for a reply on how I can help, I am left thinking of other ways to bring this Greenhouse Project in Pennsylvania to the children I teach everyday. Would our local hardware store donate a greenhouse? Would teachers and students find time to embrace this new/different learning tool? Would they see it as beneficial or ‘just another thing to do’?

The first step of researching is simple and may help one connect to others who are already doing the work in the community or elsewhere. It may also give one new and different ideas about the necessary steps to create the project or idea. Reflecting on the questions below may help when deciding if the action steps are viable:

  • Do I have the time and energy to take this on?
  • Does the community in which I live need this service?
  • Are there others who have already begun this work?

The most difficult step toward actualizing a passion is seeing the project to its entirety and maintaining operations.

  • Will I be able to take the project through to the end?
  • What is my plan for passing responsibilities onto others?

Some of these questions won’t be necessary to have a concrete answer, but may be helpful to keep in the back of one’s mind.

Just like every aspect of life, action will ebb and flow, hitting road blocks at times and move so quickly one may feel they aren’t able to keep up with the outcomes of their efforts. Breath and smile through these times. They are what makes this life beautiful. In the words of Ryokan, an eighteenth-century Zen poet, “To find the Buddhist law, drift east and west, come and go, entrusting yourself to the waves.”

For me, this fully realized passion-in-action will take time. The initial research led me to volunteer in my community garden which gives to the hungry. The next step will be finding a greenhouse for the school in which I teach. Time will tell if this idea becomes a reality. Because the passion behind the effort is directly connected to my values and mission, I know it will happen is some form. What I do know is my hands will stay in the dirt, working toward my goal of connecting others with the earth.

I encourage you to take action and get your hands dirty!

Leave a comment below:

  • What does your community need?
  • What community projects do you currently participate in?
  • What projects have you begun?
Caitlin Renz
Latest posts by Caitlin Renz (see all)

By Caitlin Renz

Author Caitlin Renz is an educator, yoga instructor, and writer of the blog Good Vibes Idaho. Her life goal is to inspire others to take risks, believe in, and ultimately become their best selves. It is her desire to encourage and support your journey to living well.