Friday, February 21, 2014

Community Like an Ocean

Intentional community feels a little like being in the ocean. I didn't tip toe; I dove in. It was frigid and I immediately wondered what in the world I was doing. The water looked so inviting from a distance.

The waves came, one by one and sometimes two by two, pulling me under, drowning me. I blamed the waves for my exhausted limbs and lungs, but the waves were only doing what waves do. I chose to walk into this. I chose to try and swim in this.

Sometimes there was a lull. The wind slowed, the waves rested, and a calm fell over the water. I breathed deep, relishing the silence, the stillness, preparing myself to be better equipped for the next wave. I took deep breaths, increased my lung's capacity, and found new methods that would work better than before.

Sometimes I am above the waves, breathing deep. Sometimes I am rolling underneath in the riptide. Sometimes I am swimming fervently, energy bursting from my body and soul. Sometimes I rest, and wait.


This week was full of activity, as most usually are: the groundbreaking of the De Luxe Theatre, candle lit dinners on our balcony, the return of a neighbor who was in the hospital after a fall, my housemate Charlie's 23rd birthday, braiding the boys' hair, losing power in our apartment complex, and moments of beauty and rest in between.

There is usually a lot of activity in our house, which often annoys me. I enjoy my personal space, quiet time, and low-key daily moments.  I don't like things to be too sensational, too loud, or too messy. In fact, I don't like them to be loud or messy at all.

A few weeks ago as I was walking home from Wednesday night church with my housemate, Rediet, we got a text from a housemate (who was at home making dinner with another housemate) wondering if their friend, a semi-homeless man who was on and off again using hard drugs, who had come over to hang out could stay for dinner. My initial reaction was, "I've had a long day. I didn't want to go to church tonight. I want to just relax tonight with a book. I don't want to build relationships. I don't want to entertain."

And then I thought about what things would be like if I lived with a bunch of people like myself. I would never invite people over for dinner when I'm hungry, or tired, or frustrated. But thank God for my housemates who are not me, who invite people over for dinner, who want to build relationships with people I may not initially want to build relationships with.

In community, we make up for one another's weaknesses and inadequacies. Somehow God fills in the cracks, building us all up and tearing us all down, filling the valleys and making the mountains low. When I"m tired, someone else is awake. When I am angry, someone else is grateful. When I am rested, someone else is exhausted. Seven people feeling seven independent feelings can be hectic and trying, but it also almost always guarantees that we will eventually balance one another out, learning how to meet one another in the process.

And, for your enjoyment, here is a video of Charlie getting his face smashed in his birthday cake.

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