When we first moved to the farm, maple tapping was a fascination. I wrote blog posts about it, placing side-by-side pictures of our maple tapping vs Laura Ingalls Wilder's from her childhood. They were surprisingly similar despite the century or more that separates my experience from hers.
Maple tapping is the first food preserving task of the season. It begins the yearly cycle of planting, sowing, harvesting, canning, preserving, and stocking. But after years of doing them, these tasks can become more functional than fun.
Like the maple tapping, my ideals about farm life, community life, and the church have been replaced, at times with a drudgery that can feel almost hostile. I'm in the middle generation of an intentional community. We aren't the older folks but we aren't new anymore. Maybe this is what it looks like to be the middle child: squashing the ideals of the new folks while trying not to guilt them into the sweat, blood, and tears it takes to make a community work.
The mysteries of community and church can weigh us all down.
But, still, we return to these things we believe in and hope for, even when they feel like toil. And like the first taste of syrup when it's been collected and boiled down in a ritual that sometimes takes a whole night of camping by the black cauldron, when we lick the first drops of warm syrup off our cold fingertips, it is the sweetest thing.