Community at Home

Submitted by Laura Dyck on March 5, 2012 - 4:31pm

Last night, it was wonderful to meet up again with the group of twelve Conrad Grebel students who travelled to Jubilee Partners two weeks ago.  It's amazing to be part of this community that is growing out of a desire to learn more about community.  As we sat in a circle and enjoyed a potluck feast, we shared our reflections on the trip and engaged in a fascinating discussion about the possibilities for intentional community in our own lives.

One of the things that struck me most about Jubilee Partners was the strength of both the community and the individuals who live and work there.  While many intentional communities dissolve because of interpersonal conflict, Jubilee has remained a strong and dynamic community for over 30 years.  The Partners’ faith and common commitment to living Christian lives has carried them through even the most difficult times, and the importance of their mission of hospitality continues to motivate their daily work.

Community seems to happen naturally at Jubilee, but our learning sessions with the Partners made us aware of how much work goes on behind the scenes to keep the community running smoothly.  It was clear to us that the weekly work schedule was integral to life at Jubilee.  It equalized people by dividing up difficult jobs.  It gave everyone, even visitors, a role in the community and ensured that time was spent purposefully.  It also ensured that the community accomplished everything it wanted to do.  So often in our individual lives, we make resolutions to improve ourselves or live out our values, but we “run out of time” to do these things.  But at Jubilee, when the community decides to take on a project, it gets done because people are simply scheduled to do it.  A little discipline, routine, and accountability in daily living can go a long way, considering how much anxiety and frustration we experience when we feel that are not living out our values.

              Discipline—especially spiritual discipline—is also a very significant source of personal strength for the Partners.  Don Mosley, one of the founding Partners, shared with us some stories from his life.  I’ll never forget his statement that a productive life is a prayerful life, not a busy life.  All of the Partners spend time in prayer and worship each day, which brings them peace and strength to make it through tough times.  The book, With Our Own Eyes, described the early days of Jubilee and made it clear that the community’s decision to spend more time in prayer was a major turning point in their history, and completely changed how they approached their daily lives and work.  I think that their incredible ability to resolve conflicts and live well together is largely the result of their spiritual discipline and their individual commitment to live out love.

              It was interesting for me to return from this trip at the beginning of Lent, which, for Christians, is a season of repentance and re-focusing on God and relationships.  The last two weeks since Jubilee have been a very meaningful time for me as I reflect on my priorities in life and how I can live more intentionally in relation to God, the earth, and the people around me.  Right now, this means adopting a practice of daily journaling, which I hope will allow me to reflect on my daily living and relationships, and find the strength to live the life that I want to be living.  It also means entering into discussion with others about the possibilities for living in intentional community now and in the future.  Our trip to Jubilee has already inspired some incredible ideas and discussions, and I am excited to see what is in store for the future! I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of something great.

Comments:
Beginning?

Great reflection, Laura. Sometimes living with a schedule day in and day out feels taxing to those who stay at Jubilee for a time, but I think you are quite right that it allows for more freedom of time, not less.

Commitment, discipline, prayer, these are all hard things to live into. But my theory is that it's like long-distance running- you start out covering small distances, and as you build up strength you get hooked on the endorphin high. It never gets easier but it sure feels great. And if you run with a group you can end up travelling pretty far...