living in community
It’s 11am on a Monday and I am home alone. I don’t do well alone. I get bored or sad or start to feel like I have no purpose in life. Being home alone isn’t easy for me. Worse still, I have a hard time staying motivated when I am home for too long. I already watched an episode of Friends and read some blogs, and worked on some stuff for PACT (a social justice/political activist group in Chicago that I am getting involved in) and read some of “The End of Poverty” (great book, btw). I have things to do but it is so much easier when other people are around. It’s harder to stay disciplined and work hard when it’s just me. Old habits, laziness, and wasting time seem so much easier when it’s just me.
I miss living in community. I lived in intentional community when I worked for YouthWorks in Duluth and for Center for Student Missions in Chicago. And I lived with several wonderful girls all through college. But now that it’s just Mike and I something is missing. There are great things about having a place to ourselves sometimes, and when life is busy I enjoy coming home to a peaceful and quiet place, but often I wish there were more people around. This is especially hard when Mike is off to work all day and I’m not. Maybe that will change when I start working full-time in July.
It’s about more than just taking away the chances of being left home alone and lonely; living in community has so many benefits. Lindsey, my friend in KY, lives in a Christian community with 10ish people who are all volunteering with the Christian Appalachian Project. They all live in the same house and share the same bathrooms, living room, and kitchen. They eat big dinners together most nights and everyone helps clean up. They spend evening together in the living room and weekends together traveling. They do evening devotions together and spend most of their non-working time together. It was amazing to be part of their communal life for just one week and it made me long for those times that I was in intentional community. Life in community gives so many opportunities to build deep relationships, to serve one another and sacrifice for the good of the community, to set a pace of life with the rest of the community and learn from everyone else, and to simply break your own habits and grow to be a more healthy person. Living apart from community allows so much more individualism, laziness, bad habits, consumerism, and selfishness creep into our lives.
Living in community can have its drawbacks and it is definitely not easy, but I know that I was made to live in community and so was Mike. As much as we want that it is so hard to find it. There are no housing co-ops in Chicago that look even half-way stable and we can’t find any Christians in the city who seem to be building large intentional communities that we would fit into. Yet I think that this need for community is built into all of us, and unless we have already suppressed our need for community by our desire for individuality, we all probably want to be part of a close community. Who doesn’t want to be one of the Friends who promise “I’ll be there for you”? So why is it that we all have this need for community (although some of us may feel it more than others) and yet it is so hard to become part of a community? Why are their no housing co-ops? Why have we all chosen to live alone only to find ourselves wishing their were more people around?
If I was loaded I would by a huge old house in Chicago and start a housing co-op. It probably wouldn’t be Christian but it would definitely be cool. I’m guessing that there are at least a handful of other people in this city who want to live in community as much as I do.
Would you live in community? Do you feel the need to live in community? Do you do better living alone or in community? Do you have lots of money and would like to buy a big house in Chicago as a housing co-op? (please?)