Two years ago, Eileen and I moved into a home with three other people (two of whom were married and have since had a child). Writing about that move, I said we were starting a season of community. Last week, that season came to a close as Eileen and I moved to a duplex in the Squirrel Hill. Last night with our men’s group from The Open Door, I shared that it’s a bittersweet feeling to have moved. Eileen and I are happy to have our own place – more space, a kitchen all to ourselves, a study where I can keep all my books and read and write in peace and quiet. And there’s the rub: the emphasis in my mind has been on “our” and “my”. In some ways moving out is an admission that I am not good at living in community. We knew it would be a spiritual discipline to live with others, but what it revealed in me is much that still needs to be sanctified: my selfishness, my attachment to “my” possessions, my desire to sneak away and hide from the world at times.
And this is why I will miss the ways in which I saw Christ shining through our old housemates, the ways in which I saw the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit alive in them: Alison’s passion for justice and her desire for open and honest communication. Kendall’s selfless and saintly work for his church, ELDI, and the communities of East Liberty and Garfield. Jen’s natural pastoral concern for others. Lucia’s reflection of the image of God and the beauty of creation, life, and new birth. The house garden growing organic vegetables in our backyard. I thank God for them and pray that God will continue to bless them and use them for the good of the Kingdom.
The end of one season is also the beginning of another, though. As the men’s group sat in our living room last night, being brutally honest with each other in a way that can only happen through the work of the Spirit, I had a foretaste of what’s ahead of us. In the coming months, that space will be where the core group of members for the new congregation will meet. We’ll pray with each other, eat with each other, share various parts of our lives with each other. Just as in the cycles of life and death everywhere else in creation, one season has ended but a new one with new life is beginning, and I look forward to watching what blooms.