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7 months & 1 backpack

Chapters of my life

USA | Wednesday, 5 June 2013 | Views [462]

I am now sitting on a train that will take me to NY, my final destination before I leave the states. This past week has been an interesting one; already I am realizing that self relization is going to be a theme for this trip. To make my next thoughts make sense at all for most of you reading this I am going to have to explain a little bit more about who I am and what has formed me (for good or bad) into the woman I am today.  So those of you who know me well will just have to bear with me for a paragraph or two.

I am a 24 year old girl who lived in an intentional Christian Community until I was 22, in my opinion my childhood was, in many ways, a utopia of safety, loving people, and very few worries. I grew up surrounded by people who loved and cared about me, cultivating an inherent trust in humanity as I had no reason to think otherwise. Yes, my life was very sheltered, growing up on a farm, pretty much homeschooled, never worrying or thinking about money, and hardly ever exposed to popular media. In some ways I wish that I had been more prepared for what I would face living on my own but at the same time even though I know that my tendency to trust people, or think that everyone cares about me can be dangerous I also have seen how people's walls seem to come crashing down when they realize that someone actually is open to talking to them. Anyways, I moved away from home because of splits that happened (unpleasant to say the least) but my heart often aches for the feeling of community, fellowship, and belonging that I was used to. Part of my decision to work in the Shelter ministries had to do with the element of community that they offer - living, working, eating, and learning with the other volunteers deeply appeals to me.

  After I moved away from home one of my closest friends moved up to another community in NJ that we had been friends with ever since I could remember, sending our youth back and forth and developing deep friendships. I have not seen Cate for almost a year and so I scheduled in a stop at Life Mission to spend time with her before flying out of New York.  I was unsure what to expect from my emotions as this community had so many memories of my previous life. It was also going to really bring to the front of my mind questions that I have about whether I could live a structured community life again, what kind of community, etc.  As soon as I drove on the property I felt that familiar sense of peace - well kept lawns, neat buildings, familiar faces all lent to a feeling of timelessness...had the last two years of my life really happened? 

  I am not sure if I can put into words what it was like to close my eyes before a meal as everyone was singing and be transported back in time, feeling like if I opened my eyes I would be in a different place and time. At the same time though I realized that I have become so used to living on my own now, deciding when and where I go and whom I answer to that it was really hard to imagine being so tightly bound to a group of people again.  I know many people would criticize the level of commitment and structure that my community, this one, and others require but I tend to think that without it there could not be the level of fellowship and koinania that , for me, makes the structure worth it.  I once read that, "Love does not preserve marriage but marriage preserves love." I believe that and I think that it also applies when a group of people try to accomplish something together - Commitment builds a wall that protects and guides growth. Of course, that can be abused but that is not a subject I wish to bring into this blog.

  So what was my conclusion on the matter of whether I would/could live in community again?  I think that I could - it would be hard; hard to give up the freedom to do what I want, hard to have my life matter so much to someone else that I couldn't just slip away without being noticed - hard? Yes. Worth it? I do believe so. Now WOULD I? I am not sure...that is a question I cannot answer. I have to say though, that as I sat, listening to my friend Cate teach the children to sing, watching their little faces light up with joy, my heart ached to teach again...listening to Derek, one of the young men play his violin with such passion, made me yearn to have something to play for, or helping clean the kitchen after lunch with the school children who tried to call me "Miss Welker" actually made me miss "clean up" (a term we used for post meal, kitchen cleaning).  I know that I am waxing sentimental so I will stop but though at first I hesitated writing this blog I decided that this was much more important to document than cool places that I visited or funny things that happened (which were many).  

Again, as I ride away on the train I was struck with the stark contrast of grafitied walls that echo peoples loneliness and unhappiness from the fulfilled and happy life of the people I just left.   I had a friend once tell me that our life is like chapters, we have to let them end so that at new one can begin but that we should never forget that the story we are building in this chapter was built on the plot of the previous ones. I have never forgotten that and it has helped me to be very grateful for my upbringing -  I am grateful for the foundation I was given in my previous chapter and am super excited to see what this new one holds!

I can only hope that I did not leave people confused by this post, but feel free to leave questions in the comments section!

Tags: community, memories

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