Last Friday I participated in a Frolic. I’ve thought of frolicking as playful behavior or some kind of fun activity. But our friends in the Amish community are much more purposeful in their frolicking.
‘Frolic’ describes a social/work event that takes place from time to time in Amish communities. Neighbor men and boys get together to pitch in for a few hours on a work project.
Think of the barn raising scene in the movie “Witness” with Harrison Ford.
Our frolic took place at Gesu Community Green – a children’s playground that members of my church built a number of years ago on vacant property across the street from our parish school. Winter takes a toll on the wood chips that soften the ground around the swings, slide and other things that kids climb on and inevitably fall from. We arrived at the park at about 5:00 p.m. where a mountain of 100 cubic yards of wood chips had been delivered. Our job – instillation.
At it’s peak I’d estimate we had 50 volunteers of all variety of men women and children.
A convoy of wheel barrows were assembled, filled with wood chips, dispatched around the park, dumped and raked. My job was simple – dig. I worked next to a couple of guys from the school’s Dad’s Club filling the wheel barrows and, of course, was determined to keep pace with them shovel for shovel. But after about two hours my back said to me “you know those Dad’s Club guys are thirty years younger than you”. I wandered over to the water station and had a leisurely chat with our Pastor Fr. Peter Etzel, S.J. who was happy to give me dispensation.
None of this would have happened without the determined (some say stubborn) leadership of Anita Sevier.
Trained in Urban Planning at Columbia University she was the catalyst in the effort to rescue the vacant property and turn it into a family friendly community space. She was the field marshal directing everyone to make sure the park was ready for summer.
I like the Amish idea of a frolic. A purposeful social activity that brings people together with a tangible result. We are often admonished to leave the planet in better shape than we found it. Anita has shown us that this is literally possible. It was nice to be a small part of this effort.
…and I was reminded of the Mother Goose poem
How much wood could a woodchuck chuckIf a woodchuck could chuck wood?As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck,If a woodchuck could chuck wood.