Dispatch from Intentional Community

In my adult life, I've lived with others in community longer than I've lived alone. It suits me, and I hope to be able to live in intentional community for the rest of my life.

I've lived in WORSHP house for almost a year now. WORSHP house (WORSHP stands for West Oakland Reconciliation and Social Healing Project) is an intentional commnity of six people, of varied ages, ethnicities, sexualities and backgrounds, living in a big old Victorian house (the one on the corner) in West Oakland. We are interfaith, although we all have some connection to Christianity, and several of our members consider that to be their faith tradition. Some of us also have deep connections to Buddhism.

Living life in this time in history, in this particular country, is a complicated journey. Having companions along this journey is a true blessing. We are all trying hard to live this life where we spread love - we try our hardest to love everyone, even when our society, and our inner voices say that we can't, or shouldn't. A post that went up once on our status whiteboard (our physical version of Facebook) said "This thing of loving everyone ... is a pain in the a**". We also have a gratitude board, which fills up with all of the things in life we are grateful for.

We have faced tough issues as a community. What does it mean to be who we are (mostly priviledged by background - we've all been to graduate school) living in West Oakland? What does real racial reconciliation mean? We've grappled with tough issues like money, ego, how we want and need to be taken care of, and fairness. We're complete, and fine, and incomplete at the same time. We are a work in progress, moving along a path we seem to be called to, and stumbling, but we pick each other up when we fall. 

This year has been one of the most difficult years of my life. It has also been a year full of change. At the same time, it has been one of the best years of my life, living here. I have felt called to live a life of simplicity, awareness, generosity and love, and I don't know if I could have found a better place for it. 

And then there's the fun stuff. The fun conversations around the dining room table on theology, economics, food security, political action, what it really means to follow that Jesus guy, and sex (yes, we talk about sex.) We love to play games, and it's no surprise to find people engaging in a game of bananagrams or Spades. We all are good cooks, so we eat well, not just on Fridays where we have our group dinners, but many days someone has cooked up a pot of soup, or a dish of curried this or that for people to share. We have lots of visitors, both for dinners and events, and also for lengthier stays. It's fun to meet such a wider range of people than I'd generally meet on my own.

As a community, we certainly could fit within the movement called "New Monasticism," and we all find resonance with those ideals, we also have deep critiques of that largely white, straight movement. We think they gone far in critiquing our economic system, and the ways in which Chrisitianity has become complicit in the dominany culture, but they haven't gone nearly far enough in looking at gender and sexuality. 

I know we also have a lot more distance to travel, and I look forward to the road ahead.

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