by: Jen Buck
Community Is Hard
For five years, I lived in an intentional community. The idea was that we might follow Jesus more closely by committing to life together. We read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. We shared meals. We practiced spiritual disciplines together every week.
It was hard.
Even as Quakers who share Christ (and so much more), the differences were stark and strong between us. Finding consensus on issues often took months. Each of us had commitments outside of this community. And the community took time.
A lot of time.
4 different homes in primarily low-income neighborhoods. 2 dogs. 3 gardens. So many ministries. We weathered a lot of life together. We celebrated together. We wrestled with our faith together. We battled with each other. There were hard conversations about who we were and what we were about. Some of us walked away from the experiment.
Two years ago, I got married and began the transition out of the community house. My husband and I wanted to start our marriage on our own. But we also wanted to stay near this intentional community.
It was a kind of compromise.
We live just a few miles away, and we view this community as our primary community. These are the people that know us. These are the people that know me. Even now, three members of the community are living at our house while they figure out where they’ll live next.
This kind of community strips you bare, leaving you naked and vulnerable with each other. And this kind of community makes a lot of mistakes along the way. I made mistakes. These people know me better than just about anyone because they’ve seen the truth of me – the darkness and the beauty.
This is what we need. And it can’t be rushed. Community takes time – time for the Spirit of God to work a mystery in us. Together. It’s a mystery of vulnerability. A mystery of grace. A mystery of messiness and transformation. It’s a mystery of difficulty, of pain. And of beauty. It’s the mystery of deep, Christ-centered community.