By Julia Love
DISCLAIMER: This is just a long emotional expression about the people I live with
After being home for holidays I was worried that coming back wouldn’t feel as comforting as it did back in August when everything was new. Man was I wrong! We had built a family in those first five months whether we wanted too or not. Like all families, we have “issues” with whose turn it is to wash the dishes or being too loud at night or in the morning. We all have our bad days and sometimes they happen to land on the same day which makes for an interesting (and snarky) dinner conversation. But then it always ends in laughter or someone spilling food to break the tension and more often than not everyone, regardless of mood, can crack a smile before the meal is over.
Dinners have become so important in our house. Food is very important to all of us but that isn’t the only reason we show up when the bell is rung. Most of us are in separate service programs in CAP and dinner may be the first we get to see everyone that day, first time to make a weird pun, first time to pray together, or the first time to even say hello. We gather around the table, someone starts with prayer and then we dig in, usually to chicken. Something else we’ve adopted is that everyone shares the high and the low of their day. I started this in August because we barely knew each other and no one knew quite what to say yet. Now we all can share in the joy and sadness that can come from this experience of service. Sometimes you have a participant that is dying, a child who is disabled, or a family that can’t be helped, and being able to share that burden is freeing.
Fast forward to after dinner when the same person who cooked leads us in devotion. This can be anything from a deeply spiritual prayer or emotional unloading to a lighthearted game. I have found myself sometimes entering this portion of the night with dread. Will they make me share my insecurities? Am I going to mess up? Will I get anything out of it? Somehow on those nights, even when I am less than willing, God opens my eyes and ears to something I needed to know.
I live with four completely unique individuals whom I love and appreciate for a multitude of different reasons. One loves board games, so I get to learn new ways to lose (he’s very good at them). One is a master on the guitar and basically everything else he attempts. One has a passion for people that is so effortless it shocks me sometimes. The last one is so faith-filled and she cares so deeply. They each make me laugh in different ways and give something to the community that would make it feel off if they weren’t there. All at once they are annoying, irritating, loving, funny, and compassionate. If I loved them for no other reason it would be that we are all serving in this year together, in the same county, because it was meant to be.
Living in community is such a crazy concept to some looking from the outside. Why would someone willingly live with complete strangers for a year? Well, I’ll tell you why. They aren’t strangers for long; they are family.
Julia is serving as an AmeriCorps Family Advocacy/Housing Caseworker and living in the McCreary Volunteer community. She is a 2016 graduate of Neumann University. Opinions expressed in volunteer blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CAP or the Volunteer Program.