November Letter from Executive Director Kelsey Rice Bogdan

When I was in divinity school, I observed that my friends seeking Christian ordination fell into two broad camps: the Hebrew fans and the Greek fans. Most of them had to study a biblical language in order to meet their ordination requirements, and their preferred language said a lot to me about their nature. The fans of Biblical Hebrew I knew were drawn to the multiple meanings of the text, and loved its earthy, creative play. They were comfortable with ambiguity, both in their Hebrew translation and in their lives. Those who preferred Koine (Hellenistic) Greek, on the other hand, enjoyed its linear, orderly nature, with its tidy declensions and clear meanings. Guess which one I elected to study?

Many of us come into Life Together, as I did, seeking to ground ourselves in some sort of certainty: discovering the right vocational path, doing significant work for justice, clarifying one’s spiritual beliefs. And yet the pages of a year with Life Together are inscribed not with neat and orderly lines, but spill over with rhymes and riddles that one will live into over a lifetime. Anyone who has been part of this community will tell you how messy it can be to form a functioning house community with half a dozen strangers; to experience the inner workings of justice organizations at a site placement; or to try on unfamiliar and uncomfortable practices in our training space. We come into Life Together seeking a Greek experience, and find the complexities of a Hebrew one.

Yet I’ve come to realize that we need to make a little mess if we’re really about personal and social transformation, as a program and as people of faith. There have been days at Life Together when all I wanted was for everyone to just row along peacefully while I catch up on some data entry. But a clean database, as virtuous as good records are, has never challenged me to grow in the Jesus Way like an open conversation with a fellow. Such things have never taught me in the way deeper organizational transparency and accountability has. Only the uncomfortable, sometimes painful, often messy moments in this work have nudged me a few steps closer to liberation.

Every day our fellows are living into deep moments of challenge and growth: the kind of growth fellow Rachel Perry describes with her students at Esperanza Academy, or the growth our alumni have been sharing with us about their experience as they fill out our fall 2018 alumni survey. I’m incredibly grateful, both for the privilege of supporting that growth in others and for the opportunity to grow myself. And I’m grateful for each of you, the members of our broader Life Together community, who with your prayers, your time, your friendship, and financial support are enabling that growth. Have a happy Thanksgiving, and thank you for all that you give to strengthen this work.