So, I’m hoping to write about the continuing journey we have creating community here at the Normal House in East Hollywood. It seems like a good idea to let people into the process, see what God may do, and maybe even be a help for other people wanting to do the same so they can learn from our mistakes.
We’ve gotten off to a good start. A lot of loving people from our church community came out over the weekend to help us move and our apartment already looks like a house (or at least parts of it!). Having so much help from people in our church community was important to me, not only because it made moving easier, but also because it felt like we were being commissioned to the neighborhood by our closest community. Amazing.
There have already been a few adventures at the house. Don woke up the first morning with a cockroach in his hair, and I had some in my Raisin Bran the same morning (yum!). Our gas accidentally got turned off and then the gas company found out all of our gas appliances were out of code, so we aren’t supposed to use them until they get fixed/replaced, but who can go without a water heater or stove? So we turned them back on ourselves. We also saw painting magic on our corner- tagged up one night, quickly painted over the next by the city.
We had our first house dinner last night, a weekly practice of ours, and talked about weekly rhythms we want to have. We decided on Thursday nights as ‘home nights’ for dinners together and to be present with our neighbors. We also decided that we are going to walk around the neighborhood or hang with our neighbors on Sunday mornings together. Sunday mornings this neighborhood is overflowing with life from the huge swap-meet in a parking lot a block and a half from here. This past Sunday it was a great chance to meet some of our neighbors, so it makes sense to commit to being in the neighborhood those mornings.
Personally, I’ve been trying to introduce myself to all the neighbors I can and am trying to remember who lives in each of the other three apartments in our building. Luckily the area feels very friendly, small-neighborhood-ish, and open, so it has been incredibly easy to introduce myself and have some conversations with the neighbors. I keep taking this as God’s signpost to me saying, “See, you are in the right place.” Yesss. I’m also trying to figure out what it means to live uber-local, living, studying, shopping, and eating in our few blocks of East Hollywood called Virgil Village, where we are located. We’ll see how living super-local goes.
Finally, a prayer, from Celtic Blessings: Prayers for Everyday Life called, “Arriving in a New Place”:
Lord, we offer you our conflicted feelings
Our apprehensions and our aspirations,
The strange bed, the changed roles, the fear of the unknown.
Risen Christ, we acknowledge that you are in our midst,
Circle this place and make it your own
Keep peace within, keep evil out.
May all memories, influences, or powers that are not of you flee from this place
May the angles guard and welcome us.
We turn our eyes upon you,
Calm us and settle us
Help us to feel at home with you and with one another
So there is no need to pretend.
Help us to be ourselves
And to see these new faces as our family.