Anyways, now we are nearly halfway through with a six month internship, which, in a lot of ways has looked like a sabbatical. We are partnering with a wonderful church that wants to invest in us but has asked very little from us, which is refreshing. Sundays get to be days of rest now. We are still investing in people, but slowly, cautiously. Our main spiritual focus right now is just seeking God's face and trying to be patient as we wait to hear what comes next. We're trying to be patient...
The way we see it, we've got both a couple of options and a ton of them. We want to either:
A) Find some mentors and start an intentional community or
B) Join an existing intentional community
Both have their pros and cons. We could start an intentional community anywhere, we just have to find out where God's calling us/what's a good fit for us. We also want to wait for a few other people to do it with because we are all about support and teamwork as we try to figure all of this out. Soo, if that is the case we just continue to wait for "our people".
If we join an existing one, it would probably be a lot easier in that the system would already be in place and the community would already be solid. We'd automatically have help with the kids and we would be less likely to go through that long grueling phase of being new somewhere. At least it would be shortened because we would automatically have a "family" there - wherever it is.
I say that we have a ton of options because we could do what we're looking to do literally anywhere. There are intentional communities all over the country and, if we plant one, it could be anywhere we choose. So, what are our priorities as we seek people and a place? I guess I can break it down into two sections - place and community.
I'm pretty sure I want to go ahead and go back to school. If I get a master's in Social work, I'll be better equipped to help an intentional community survive and thrive because I will be trained in helping people interact and problem solve in a healthy way. There is also a track that helps people write plans and regulations for nonprofit/social organizations, which would be tremendously helpful. That said, we'd want to pick a place that has a school of social work nearby.
We also are pretty sure that we want to be in a city. Hattiesburg is a good "minimum size" for us, because we love the diversity a city brings, but we also feel a burden for the social ills that tend to go along with a larger population.
I also really, really don't want to get farther than a day's drive from my family. I've prayed a lot about this one, and it doesn't seem like a selfish desire, but a need that both my family has for me and I for them. We are close bunch, and I think I would really regret choosing a place that would keep me from seeing them more than once or twice a year.
Finally, I feel a burden for the "Bible Belt" area in the south. This place feels like ground zero for a new revolution. There is a palpable tension between the "old church" ideology, with it's political fangs and image driven, materialistic showy beastliness that has run so many away from not just religion, but God altogether, and a true church within that is aching for someone to come tell it that there is something more. It's not just young folks, I hear it from all sides right now. For so many of us, this religiosity just isn't sitting right because we know Jesus, we've read our Bibles for ourselves and we don't think that Jesus is too concerned with whether we show up with our shirt pressed for Sunday morning's sermon. Jesus is concerned that we've abandoned him - you know, like he says here in Matthew -
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:34-40
I've increasingly felt that most of the church hasn't got the slightest clue about what grace is. If we did, we wouldn't be so worried about sinning and we'd be more intent on knowing God. We'd also be a little quicker to extend grace to each other instead of judgement.
Phew. Apparently I have strong feelings about that matter. Anyway, moving on.
The type of community we feel called to is pretty unique, and I don't think it's for everyone. It will involve cohousing for some of us, shared meals and Bible studies scattered throughout the week for all of us, and a shared mission. Everyone will be trained and required to think like a "missionary", building intentional relationships with the purpose of shining Christ's light onto people who need it, regardless of their faith background.
We also feel strongly about environmental issues, and wish to pursue green living and urban homesteading. This is another reason why living in community is important to us. We can't shoulder alone this calling to family and keep up a garden or a backyard of chickens while simultaneously inviting our neighborhood into our homes regularly, but as a team we can share both the work and the rewards of such a lifestyle.
So to sum it up for myself -
In a Bible belt city that has a school of social work. An urban homestead style community with a strong emphasis on shared life and neighborhood involvement.
Well, that just sounds so simple. Now we just need the people to do it with. I guess that's what all this angst boils down to - we're tired of waiting for the people God has in mind for us to do this with.
Wherever you are, would you just show up already? We're tired of waiting for you!
Peace and blessings and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Sarah, Dennis and Kids