Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Continuing Adventures in Community
While I have studiously tried to avoid this blog becoming a mere recount of experiences which are fun to be lived but probably rather dull to read about, perhaps there are times when it is right to share and celebrate some of the realities as well as the reflections they inspire.
So the Carrs Lane Lived Community is now one year old, and after a much-needed summer break the routine is firmly re-established once more, with days shaped around morning and evening prayer and a shared evening meal. The twitter and facebook feeds are (so far ... it's still only September) being kept up to date, and the website has lots of new pages including some photos of year 1.
The most significant recent development in the life of the community is that, well, its really a community these days! The flat is now home to four resident members (shown in the photo, along with Giuliano, who joined us for a couple of weeks), and we have plenty of plans to welcome others for shorter periods of time.
From the beginning, we made a conscious choice not to actively advertise for members but rather to wait and allow the community to grow organically. We knew this was the right choice, but I have to admit to times last year when I began to wonder how long we could continue to sustain "community" as only two. As is often the way, it was into that space of uncertainty that signs of growth began to appear.
While we didn't know how the community would grow, our prediction that it would happen in ways we didn't expect certainly proved true when our third community member turned out to be a ninety-year old nun. Whatever else we thought might happen, that one was certainly not on our radar and appeared as an unexpected gift. With 70 years experience of community life, Sr Mary-Joseph certainly adds a different dynamic to our community. I find her presence hugely inspiring and hope that when I am ninety I will both still be seeking to live a life of community shaped around a routine of prayer ... and also still open enough to find it in very new and different ways that I couldn't possibly have imagined when I started out on this adventure.
The end of August saw the arrival of member number 4, a friend from university days taking up our year in community invitation and coming to live, pray and volunteer alongside us for the next year. While this, in some ways, follows a less unexpected path, it will nonetheless be a source of newness as we find ways to grow and deepen a friendship which will look very different lived out together than kept up by facebook and occasional visits.
Community continues to stretch wider than just those living in the flat, with both occasional and regular faces sharing with us in the prayers as well as several people signed up to come and spend a couple of weeks or longer living the routine with us. It is sometimes good (and probably important) to remind ourselves from where we have come. If at times things have seemed to move slowly; looking back over the last year; from the nothing we started with to what we have now is a reminder of life, and growth and hope.
And so begins the second year of this latest adventure. I am sure it will look and feel very different from the first. There will be challenges, of that I have no doubt. There will be struggles and there will be sacrifice. But I reckon it will all be worth it. Because I am fairly sure there will be life, abundantly!