It’s BVS orientation time here in our house, which means that one of our housemates is gone for close to three and a half weeks! The four of us were reunited for a day and a half after my crazy, week and a half roadtrip, which I documented on my own blog.
For 2013, I have decided to keep track of all of the miles that I travel for trips. It might seem like a funny thing to keep track of for someone who lives in an intentional Christian community. Humorous (and sad) because the memories and experiences that come from intentional community…come from physically being present. The experience comes from navigating life together. Shared laughter over dinner or the grumpiness in the van after a long day at work are moments that define us as a community. Albeit in small and mundane ways, but they continually structure who we are as a community nonetheless.
When I returned from my week and half long jaunt away from 923, I came back to a regular house meeting…there were things that it took me longer to process or reminders that didn’t directly apply to me. Like, “Can we try to leave a little bit early…so that we’re on time for work?” Well, I haven’t even been here for the past ten days she’s probably not talking about me…or to me. Yet, she was. It’s a common plea and reminder that we hear often and just because I’ve been gone…doesn’t mean I don’t need a reminder to be in the van by 7:45am.
The travel schedule that pulls us away from our BVS home seems ironic to me, because …it’s harder to strengthen relationships when I’m not physically present, especially when I’m in a new state, with (mostly) new people, and a new church. Being here for ALL of those things is hard enough…not to mention being intermittently gone and missing bits and pieces of this place’s story. I know the story of where I came from – Weyers Cave. I know the town, the nice lady at the locally owned grocery store, I know the church people, the Valley people, the Bridgewater people…I KNOW that place. My roots are DEEP in that Virginia ground and when I come home…it’s like I hadn’t left. Yet, we all know that’s not true, either, because people grow and change and live even when you’re not there. Right?
It’s hard to think about the roots I have in Virginia, in the Valley and at Bridgewater, and the roots that I’m establishing here…the people that I am falling in love with each day, the old van that I can drive better than my own car, the welcoming church family and supportive co-workers, and the flat horizons and snowy ground. THEN having to uproot in a year and a half to (potentially) another new place with new people? Is that just the plight of young adulthood? Are young adult’s seasonal plants unable to establish deep roots in a place? How do you all feel about this? Are you all experiencing a similar phenomenon?
The Head and the Heart lyrics, “My roots have grown but I don’t know where they are” come to me immediately. If I bounce from place to place with roots here, there, and everywhere…is that okay? I don’t know about you, but I secretly LOVE that I get to travel. I am excited about the (freedom) that a young adult life can bring without having to “settle-down.”
They're so beautifully weird. I love it.
I read a book by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, during my own BVS orientation, called “The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture.” I actually picked it up, because its design cover was reminiscent of our workcamp logo and theme “Deeply Rooted.” In his book, Wilson-Hartgrove talks about the importance of living into the daily rhythms of a place, of buying a house (that you’ll live in the rest of your life!), becoming a true part of the place around you and the people physically near you. He referenced the jet-setters who daily traveled around the world – whose roots were deeper in airports than in a home or city. Or in suburbia…where we don’t know who lives next door…and frankly don’t want to. The images just invoke emptiness and isolation. And it’s lifestyle choices that we’ve made for ourselves or that society has guided us to. He asks us, where is God calling you to be stable in your life? How can you be rooted wherever you are? Wilson-Hartgrove uses the stable imagery of his own intentional community and their daily rhythms, but suggests that stability with God can start by practicing daily rhythms of your own.
Intentional Christian community is a life choice that suggests we want to know people, know God, and be known ourselves. For that to happen, we have to be HERE…and in the BVS house…we are…for the most part. We work together. We eat together. We worship together. We commute together. We talk together. We meet together. When we’re here we really are together. Maybe that’s what’s most important.
I’ve been called to this time and this place…right now. I might not be here for the rest of my life, but I’m here right now. Trying to be mentally, physically, and spiritually present to the way the God is moving through these people and this place. We (secretly) know and (internally) acknowledge that this community is fleeting. By this time next year, the BVS house members will be different and its old members will have moved on…hopefully, establishing their own roots somewhere else. We ALL know that is our fate…we can’t live here forever. But we fully live here now and we fully love each other now and we fully seek God to come into this space now.
There probably aren’t too many intentional communities, Christian or otherwise, with members who travel as much as we do. (Maybe the Simple Way with Shane Claiborne’s speaking schedule?) The next time that all four of us are in the house together will be February 17th, and then the following morning I’m leaving for a short trip to California for workcamps. What is our life together!? Or I guess the better questions could be WHERE? It’s fitting that on that Sunday, February 17th, we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day. Celebrating love…together…in our home…with friends…here.