I have dirt under my nails.

Today, the trip began in earnest. Today, I worked. Really worked.

I did two things I’ve never done before.

1. Harvested Potatoes

Have you ever harvested potatoes? It’s like finding gold in the ground. Yukon, russet, red, and purple (who knew?) gold. This is just a bag of the little guys, but we ended up with a bunch of bags just from one small row of plants. Just one! It was a really cool process to learn about. Since I took my work gloves out for this task, I felt like I was working. Work gloves = working. It turns out that is an untrue equation, which I learned while doing the second thing I’ve never done before.

2. Pulling Pigweeds

When I heard we would be weeding, I pictured garden weeding. Pulling dandelions and other bothersome invaders. But I quickly learned that weeding on a seed farm in Montana means pulling pigweed, an invasive weed that is the height and circumference of a decent sized bush. It was a little like pulling baby Christmas trees from the ground in July. Not that I’ve ever participated in a summertime baby Christmas tree pulling, but I would imagine the two tasks are comparable.

See that Ford F-150? We filled the back with four loads of weeds. The weeds around here are no joke, and neither is the work. I’ve never been one to shy away from hard work or hard things in general. Most of the time I welcome the opportunity thanks to my unruly competitive nature. But this type of work in this type of setting presented a whole new set of challenges – not just physical, but social and emotional as well. I’m doing things I’ve never done before and living with people I’ve never met before in a place I’ve never been to before. It’s not easy.

These moments – on the road from Hades yesterday and out in the field today and alone in my little cabin tonight – they are exactly why I decided to go on this trip. I’m so outside of everything that is known, familiar, and comfortable to me. I have no routine to fall back on and no Google Reader Top Chef shoo fly pie distractions to occupy my mind, nothing that usually offers a sense of security. I am in a place where trusting in myself and my constructed world is impossible. It’s a place that makes trusting God not only natural, but essential.

I came on this trip for a multitude of reasons – to see the country, to be challenged, to do something I’ve always wanted to do – but I think one of the larger reasons was to truly relinquish control and live in a place of surrender. I wanted to have a rubber-meets-the-road experience, one in which my faith meets the unknown. Today, the rubber met the road.

There is no tidy ending to this post because there is no tidy ending to this day. (Please note that this is not a bad thing. This is a just-the-beginning-of-a-much-larger-journey thing.) There are, however, a few selected quotes swirling around in my head. I’ll leave you with them:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” – Tony Robbins

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” – Vince Lombardi

“I come that they may have life, and life abundantly.”  – Jesus

(Not life easily or life comfortably, but life abundantly.)