I came to Life Together in 2011 with a desire to find a place where I could be accepted and made to feel strong and bold. Well, all the fear and anxiety about not being accepted flew out the window when I walked in the first day and saw Arrington standing there in a collar! I remember turning to someone and asking, “is that a woman?” I wasn’t confused about her gender; I was shocked to see my first woman priest. Growing up Southern Baptist, the closest I could ever get was being a preacher’s wife, but this opened up a new world. In that moment my world broke open. In that moment I saw possibilities that were at one point just dream.
On December 8th we welcomed the newest member of the Life Together Community, Sofia Isabella Long, who was born into the family of Jason Long and Daniella Morella. Please read Jason’s letter regarding his transition into fatherhood.
This Advent marks the beginning of a new church year. Thank you for all the prayer, community and action that your support has enabled through Life Together’s 26 Fellows, 23 Sites, and five Intentional Communities. We are deeply grateful for your kind words, volunteer hours, financial donations, prayers and encouragement.
In Advent 2010, these words (read below) of Christopher Fry first came to my attention, when my friend, Stephanie Spellers, asked me to read an article that she was finishing for the Anglican Theological Review called “The Church Awake: Becoming the Missional People of God."
What has this year with Life Together and St. Stephen’s in the South End taught me? What have I learned about intentional living and community organizing? What have I discovered about being an intern and recent college graduate? What have I learned about being a Christian? I don’t think I could even begin to articulately convey these findings in writing.
I stumbled into the Religion major by pure chance during my freshman year in college. Anxiously searching for a final class, I sat in on a seminar titled “Judaism and Story” with one of my friends and proceeded to fall head over heels. My love and passion for the major burgeoned with every class; I had dozens of questions after completing my readings, and so much to think about after class discussions that I would go to office hours with bullet points of all the things I wanted to further discuss. For the first time, it was no longer about having the “right” answer or earning the perfect grade.
But quickly I found that, despite my BA in History, it wasn’t the historical facts about Lent that most interested me. It was talking to my housemates, Life Together staff, clergy and co-workers about how they understood Lent and what it meant to them that really made things come alive for me.
First of all, when people hear “Life Together intentional community,” I think they picture a bunch of pious, saintly twenty-somethings sitting around spiritually grooving together. I wish I could tell you we were all saintly- and pious- but intentional community is actually the place where your very human side of your spiritual life ends up being exposed. Not only exposed, but confronted. When you commit to intentional community, there is no way to hide from yourself, and from others, because, well, you have said that you’re going to be intentional about making a community.
I have found that the sweetness of knowing Jesus has come in those small moments of life when I look up at the vivid colors of leaves on the trees and am thankful for the beauty or when a trip to the grocery store with a housemate revealed God’s abundant provision or when sharing a tiny tangerine with a friend (being grateful that I have a tangerine and a friend to share it with). It’s these moments that hold together all the other bigger, more “significant” moments, but without them life is just a clunky song. My time in Life Together has already transformed the way I look at the ordinary as holy; how an everyday encounter can turn into a sermon for life.
Listening to the other fellows’ public narratives empowered the whole group. Yet I also love hearing stories in the in-between conversations, the moments we spend talking about our hopes for the future and how we came to Life Together more informally. I can already tell that my path of discernment this year will be aided by all of these times together as we tell our own stories and work on telling the Christian story.
A lesson from the ‘T’: Smiles are free, but they take work While riding Boston’s public transportation, known as the ‘T’, I noticed early on that folks got pretty uptight the moment they stepped on. What I noticed immediately after that was that I too had put on a blank face and hunched myself into a sterile blue plastic seat. Not only was this out of character for me, but it was going to make for some fairly depressing cross-city travels. I resolved therefore to smile, or to at least have friendly body language and a decent look on my face, at all times during my commuting. It turns out to be more difficult than it sounds, too.
When I first arrived in Boston last month, I began to hear stories about St. Stephen's. I heard about how the church had hosted Diocesan convention last year and the hospitality they had shared with hundreds of guests. I also heard about how the church was deeply invested in the community of Lynn, and how neighbors knew they were always welcome. And I heard that people of St Stephen's work hard.