Mercy Mondays: A student spring break trip to Nazareth Farm
This past spring break, six Salve Regina students made their way down to Center Point, West Virginia, to a community called Nazareth Farm.
Founded in 1979, Nazareth Farm focuses primarily on providing home repair for local families who live in substandard housing. The farm upholds four cornerstones: prayer, simplicity, community and service.
For several days of the service retreat, students ventured off the farm into the local community to work on home repair. This gave students the chance to embrace the cornerstone of service while gaining new skills, exploring the area and learning a bit more about the Appalachian region.
However, the cornerstone of simplicity offered one of the most unique and memorable experiences to volunteers at Nazareth Farm. In accordance with simple living, volunteers were asked not to use their cellphones during the week. Phones were kept off and tucked away. This was a challenge that was surprisingly met with no resistance, and even joy.
Additionally, staff managed meal and sleeping times, so volunteers did not need a watch or phone to keep track of time. Amidst a culture so dictated by the clock, it was another welcome challenge to be able to let go of the pressure of time and instead focus more on the present.
Furthermore, energy is used sparingly at the farm. Volunteers were allowed one five-minute indoor shower and two outdoor bucket showers throughout the week. The bucket shower is as it sounds—fill a bucket with water and use it to wash in a stall over the stream. Biodegradable soap was provided. On Wednesday night, everyone had an energy fast. After dinner, all lights were extinguished and flashlights became invaluable. Volunteers were asked to use the outhouses at this time, and a bucket of water was provided for washing.
While some of these practices were certainly challenging, this week of simplicity, community, service and prayer helped students to unplug, gain new perspective and form deeper connections with others, themselves, nature and their spirituality.
If any students are interested in spending a spring break at Nazareth Farm, reach out the Mercy Center for Spiritual Life.
This post is part of an ongoing series called Mercy Mondays that highlights Salve Regina’s dedication to its Mercy Mission. Search the tag Mercy Mission for more updates on the Mercy branches of Salve Regina.