Well, it’s been over three years since my last post, and for those of you with faith enough to continue signing up for subscriptions, I commend you! Since that last post, I’ve graduated theology school, gotten married, and joined an intentional community, in that order—much to celebrate! Lisa and I got married in July of 2014 in Fresno, California, where we lived for two years (she had been there a total of a dozen), before moving to Casa de Clara San Jose Catholic Worker a little over a year later, in August 2015.
From the beginning, our aspiration had been to live communally, sharing prayer and living and serving among those on the social margins. We gave ourselves a minimum of a year before making that move, giving ourselves time to build our own “community of two” before joining with others. In March of 2015 we made our first visit to Casa de Clara and were inspired by the vibrant life we saw and felt in the many guests, friends, and volunteers we met, who were clearly nourished in their varied relationships with the community. We were inspired to join especially by the unique balance of prayer, hospitality, and activism: at Casa de Clara, our day begins at 7am for an hour of silent common prayer and ends with brief evening prayer, plus a Friday night prayer group and monthly Mass; we provide temporary housing for women and women with children experiencing homelessness, with whom we sit at table for dinner family-style each evening; and we participate regularly in peace vigils, protesting the manufacture and trade of weapons of mass destruction at Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest arms manufacturer, among other activities that make up our daily round. In other words, we live a way of life integrated by and expressive of our deepest faith commitments: following Jesus’ way of solidarity with those on the social margins, economic simplicity and sharing in community, and nonviolent peacemaking.
We’re still neophytes, having only been part of the community a little over seven months now, still adjusting, sensing whether this is something to which we can commit for the long haul. Like any communal experience, depending on which side of the bed we happen to wake up on, the very things that seem so life-giving one day can feel unbearable the next: “We live where we work! We work together as spouses! Our schedules are flexible and malleable from day to day! We live with others in community!” Our first concern was architectural: how were we going to downsize from a rented 1200 square foot house all to ourselves, to a 130 square foot bedroom in a shared home? I had great fun designing our room and building a queen-size loft, floating shelves on the walls, and basically anything else I could think of to maximize space and build a comfortable nest. Having established physical space, we’ve been slowly easing in, finding our place in a core community of four (including ourselves) and a fluctuating community of 4-7 guests, including children! So life for us is good, challenging, hopeful, and we are grateful to have found a concrete way to live out our aspirations. We are clearly on the path I named in my previous post: integrating social action and contemplative practice in community.
I have more to write but I have decided to write elsewhere, because it’s time to officially bring Emerging Communities Ancient Roots to a close. My life today is so shaped by what I learned and experienced, and by who I met on my tour of communities, that in some sense it hardly feels over and done. At the same time, I am living a very different kind of life from that period of mostly solitary itinerancy, punctuated by brief stays in communities—I am now married and seeking to plant roots in the kind of life that the tour inspired me to live. So, once again, I extend my deep gratitude to all of you who have followed, supported, hosted, befriended and shared your stories and wisdom with me along the way. And if you want to follow me as I continue to reflect on integrating monastic spirituality as a married person and a Catholic Worker, meet me over at my new blog, 6th and Julian. See you there!