I’ll start with a confession about my year as a Life Together fellow: I never lived in intentional community. No community nights, no shared food budget, no Friday Prayer Partners, no tense house conflicts. At the end of a long day at my site placement, or a particularly intense Friday training, I would go home to peace, quiet, and the sympathetic ear of my partner. There were days when I counted myself lucky not to be sharing a house with six strangers.
Yet looking back, I think I missed a particularly powerful piece of the Life Together experience. We don’t publicly highlight the communal element of our contemplative, communal, and prophetic program, instead lifting up our site placement work or the internal spiritual practices that our training program cultivates. Yet when fellows leave Life Together, they often highlight most clearly the ways in which being in community has helped them grow as leaders. Fellows are asked to build authentic relationships, where vulnerability is met with love. They are challenged to listen carefully and respond thoughtfully to those with whom they deeply disagree. And they find ways to support one another, to take risks together, whether that means showing up to hear a housemate preach, joining the latest immigration rally, or traveling to Lawrence in March to share in the experience of the teachers in our cohort.
I want to be part of that kind of community; our country needs that kind of community, if we are to come together across difference to resist all that prevents human thriving. That’s why I believe our communal practices at Life Together are so vital. We need one another to cry and celebrate, to give each other courage, to take collective action. Both Libby Gatti’s alumni spotlight and Greg Baker’s fellow spotlight this month highlight different ways in which being in community both enables resistance and acts itself as a form of rebellion. On May 6, we will also come together to celebrate our community as a river in the desert, a new thing God is doing in this time and place to bring about the Beloved Community. I hope you will join me and the Life Together fellows that evening, as we celebrate together and commit to collective action.