This is the first Tuesday night in a while I haven't spent eating, drinking, praying, and talking with a particularly awesome group of people - my Christian Community reading group. But, well, school started. sigh. trudge.
Keeping my mind in the happy past - we had a really awesome summer reading program! We did 12 chapters in 12 weeks of this book written by many, many people and edited by Rutba House, a community in Durham NC.
We also read (more or less) 12 other books, from Benedict's ancient rule for monasteries to Thomas Merton's reflections on the contemplative life... to Wendell Berry's call to care for the land, to Mary Elizabeth Hobgood's call to dismantle the privileges of race, gender, and sexuality... and to the Transition Handbook's take on impending oil collapse and how we need to Restructure Everything into a localized and inter-dependent economy. These all have something to do with our wide sense of call as young Christians, wanting to live out our faith with 100% of our lives, and to do it together - building and participating in community, learning to truly love one another, and listening to the call of Jesus and the early church to share our possessions and life with the poor and with one another.
Dear bookgroup! how do I love thee? let me count the ways...
* there was that time when we were reading Dorothy Day, and hospitality, and feeding the poor, and learning about multiplying loaves and fishes... and so that week we ended up having bookgroup on the borrowed floor of someone else's house, and dinner was tea, and cucumber salad, and cinna-twist-sticks, and somehow it was enough.
* there was the lovely check-in question "how is it with your soul?" that finally the last week erupted into a chorus of "it is well, it is well..."
* there was the chance to read Merton together. Once upon a time I encountered a few words of Thomas Merton's writings, and was so thoroughly enthralled that I immediately put the book away. For a long time I would not read him at all, for fear that a word of his would touch my heart deeply enough to prevent me from living any life other than his -- a life of contemplation. As in 100%, and in a monastery, in a habit, avowed, & forever, or it's worthless. Having discovered, however, that I am most certainly NOT called by God to be a contemplative nun, Merton got back onto the "safe" list.... and it was great to unpack his rich treasures of wisdom with such a great group discussion for perspective.
* there was that time we took "mid-term break," played some salt n pepa, and talked about issues of SEX that come up in community houses -- how much privacy do married couples need? what about single people - especially those who are circumstantially single but don't intend to stay that way - how do their respective bf/gfs fit into the mix? and ACK, what if someone has BABIES?
* there were all those times the various brewers brought their various homebrewed beer. Brian's coffee stout and Grant's Saizon (sp?) were highlights.
* mostly, i loved the irony of the fact that I drove across the Richmond Bridge in order to talk about living lightly on the earth, and that I left my housemates (and other people left their neighbors) in order to talk about being closer in community, and that we used a heck of a lot of technology to organize ourselves to do some very simple work. It was a beautiful, beautiful mess of all kinds of things, and so many different people over the course of the summer, and overall I just want to say wow, and thanks to them for sharing their hearts & minds, and to God for helping all our lives briefly align!