29 April 2015
Cleaning someone else's dishes: another way of doing community
Last week, Matthijs and I stayed at friends of his in San Francisco. It was good, both the city and the hospitality of Chris and Eva.
As I was cleaning up the dishes one night, I realized why I was enjoying this vacation in a different way than normal. Vacation is about getting to do things that we don't do as much as we'd like to, like exploring a new city, walking through beautiful nature, and spending lots of time talking to each other (about everything) over good food. Resting and getting away from normal life is thus an important part of how I understand vacation. At the same time, doing the dishes at their house reminded me of something I had also been missing: the easy intimacy and comfortable sense of community found in sharing (living) space.
Doing the dishes felt symbolic both of sharing space and life together (Matthijs and I had helped wrap enchilladas for the dinner they were hosting the next day) and of having enough freedom to create and order the space in a way that fit me. The freedom was further extended to knowing that I could go to my room any time to read (or even read with them around) or skip out on the conversation to play/read with their daughter, Alma. It felt close without feeling forced or overwhelming.
Creating community - or perhaps better said, creating space where community can form - is part of my job as a campus minister. It seems strange thus to talk about it as something I miss, especially I do experience Campus Edge as having a strong community (even for me) and have started making friends. Yet, I still miss the natural intimacy that develops from living with others in intentional community. As I had met Chris and Eva only at our wedding, the sense of community was even more special, while also reinforcing my belief that gracious hospitality and sharing normal life together is more than enough to create good community.
Once again experiencing the joy and wonder of the community has reminded me how much I want that to be part of my life again, and soon.