So click on over here to read my letter that I sent to family and friends as part of a semi-annual letter-writing update and fundraising effort that Amate asks of the volunteers every year.
Of course, it’s never comfortable to ask for donations but I just really looked at it as an opportunity to reconnect with people and update family and friends about my experience this year, especially those that might otherwise have no idea what I’m (actually) doing this year. I didn’t have to pay for the stamps so I wanted to make use of this opportunity for sharing and I just snuck the appeal part in at the end 😉 And I really do believe in the value of the Amate House program, so in that sense, it was the least I could do!
First off, I’m going to blame community time as one of the main reasons I haven’t blogged in awhile 😉 Forming an intentional community takes time and energy… and so does blogging. Community time is thus definitely a higher priority as we learn to live together and build relationships. And as I spend most of my days at work on a computer right now, that’s not encouraged me to want to be on the computer any more than necessary at home.
That being said, I’ve been pondering the concept of community so much lately… and not only pondering it, but living it. Living in community is simultaneously one of the greatest joys and greatest challenges of this year… but I don’t think that’s surprising for anyone who has lived in intentional community before. It’s like a family I suppose 😉
Why live in intentional community?
There are so many reasons I could choose but I’d like to point out a cool way to answer the “Why?” question: it’s an alternative way of being formed.
If we’re not being formed intentionally, then we’re being formed unintentionally by whatever unknowing influences happen upon our hearts and minds. I wish everyone could have this experience of intentional communal living, because it really is a microcosm of larger humanity. As one speaker joked to us, “there will be war, poverty, hunger…”
But really, as we live life together—sharing chores and stories, mixing personalities, perspectives and life goals, and facing the difficulties of conflicting schedules, simple living, and communal decision-making—we are being “forced” to constructively deal with issues that everyone must deal with throughout their lives. If you think about it, we’re all part of countless communities–families, work places, friend groups, churches, etc. I wish everyone could have this opportunity to help us live better in relation with one another.
What does living in community look like here?
We eat community dinners Sunday-Thursday. Two people cook together per night. I’m lovin’ learning how to cook!!
We have community nights once a week on Wednesdays, sometimes with just our house, sometimes with all 3. This time is sacred! We really shouldn’t miss unless it’s for a work something that we must be at. I really like these… others are probably a little less enthusiastic about them 😉
We live on $15/person/per week for food. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s plenty when we you put it all together!
We divide chores up (grocery, lawn, kitchen, bathroom, petty cash, common spaces).
We have prayer nights almost every Sunday evening.
We started the year by going on “dates” with each other to ensure that we cultivate individual relationships with every member of the house.
We have Theocentric Thursdays where we take time at dinner to share a how we’ve seen God in the last week. They tease me because I usually can’t pick just one 😉
We learn about one social justice issue per month via a house member and his/her particular passions.
We make sure that AT LEAST once a month, we do a fun activity that involves all 9 of us (This month it was the zoo!).
We go to Mass together (all 9 of us) at least once a month.
And of course, it means so much more than what we “put on the calendar.” It’s just hanging out and having fun together. It’s spontaneous late night conversations (both ocean deep ones and deep end of the pool ones) and laughing til we’re on the floor. It’s bananagrams and unidentifiable vegetable donations. Dressing up as the L for Halloween and picking each other up from the L when it’s dark. Going for runs and “going Dog Whisperer” to save each other from stray dogs. It’s letting your roommate cut your hair to save money and baking for hours while making Tshirts for our “ending homelessness” 5K run (which we dominated by the way). Ultimately, it’s learning how to live as “we” in a “me”- centered world.
So… Anna from Illinois, Anna from Utah, Katie from Minnesota, Katy from Hawaii, Nicole from Illinois, Courtney from Kentucky, Felipe from Massachusetts and Earl from the Phillipines/Florida/Hawaii (how cool?!) are my wonderful, aforementioned microcosm of humanity. This year of service would not have half its formative power without their presence. And my life would not be as rich.
More thoughts soon on what I’m learning in community I’m sure.