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You could’ve been getting down to this sick beat.

June 23, 2015

Remember when I said I was going to start a series of blog posts with Taylor Swift lyrics as the title? Did you think I was kidding? Well, I wasn’t. An elephant never forgets. I need to be part of her girl gang. SOMEBODY MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

Speaking of girl gangs, I’m starting to feel kind of bad for Matthew. I mean, five girls and one boy. It sounds kind of exciting in principle, you know, like “What a lucky guy! Five beautiful ladies and one dude!” In theory. But when the rubber hits the road, it’s all talk about tampons and the unlivable agony of menstrual cramps and hot doctors and angry hormones and gender inequality and chick flicks. Three of them. In a row. And chocolate and pizza and farting. A lot of farting. Sometimes crying. The other day he said, “I’m learning a lot about girls.” Ten minutes ago he said, “I do not think I will partake in this ladies night that you speak of.” But he basically has no choice, because every night is now ladies night….featuring Matthew.

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Matthew : a portrait of affectionate apprehension

Anyway. All this is to say that the six of us went on our first retreat as house fellows. Not my first house retreat by any means, but my first retreat with this particular group of people. One of the things about living in the house is the group dynamic is changing constantly. You re-learn how to be a family over and over again. You take the good parts with the bad. You have a honeymoon period, and you have a I Hate Everyone period. You emerge from all of these periods (and actual periods) and you move on into something deeper. Something that isn’t transient. The bond is steel. You can’t forget. You hold each other up. You annoy each other deeply. You learn to love deeply. Your inside jokes start to get weirder and weirder.

On our retreat, we went to the hot springs. A lot. Would I say too much? No. We also participated in Eric and Janess’s second honeymoon. (Only in the sense that we ran into them at the hot springs. That was as far as that participation went.) We watched four movies. Alessa cut Steph’s hair. Caitlin and Matthew listened to a lot of Taylor Swift. Kate and Jesse facilitated, kindly and awesomely. We went outside. We tried to rent a canoe but it was too expensive. We went to the hot springs again. We did a listening prayer together. It was intense. Matthew enjoyed some opaque clouds. We tried to define community. We talked about the things we do as a house, which are shared practices and which are disciplines. We asked ourselves some questions that maybe we didn’t have the answers to (via Rod). We drew some pictures. Sometimes we cried. We made food for each other. I read a book to Steph. As one does.

In the process of knitting yourself together, sometimes it’s painful. It might take something from you. But we might never have seen the peculiar beauty of this new tapestry if we had held ourselves back. If we had continued to care only for ourselves. There’s a better, more uncomfortable way. And it’s called socialism. (Just kidding, Dad. Just kidding.)

“But they were not really trying to develop a new kind of economy or forment a revolution or create a radical social system designed to disempower the nobility. They were simply doing what seemed natural to them: creating a kind of family.”

Scott Bessenecker, The New Friars

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