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My weekend

March 31, 2009

I haven’t talked much about this. Jarrod barely knew what we were doing. Here’s the synopsis of my weekend…

Megan and I had the incredible privilege of attending a School For Conversation conference in Americus, Georgia at Koinonia Farm. We registered for the conference as part of a reading/independent study class we are taking together about neo-monasticism. If you haven’t heard of Koinonia Farm, it’s worth taking a look. Koinonia birthed Habitat for Humanity, did incredible work on race relations in the 1950s, and are doing amazing work in sustainable living. They have many, many acres of pecan trees in various orchards, several pigs, some geese, turkeys, rolling hills, and delicious food. Megan and I were traveling with our friend Ross who is on his internship and will graduate from Perkins in May.

Our journey began at 3am on Friday morning. We woke and got the car packed for the airport. Our flight left DFW at 5:30am for Atlanta. We got to Atlanta and moved our watches up an hour to get on eastern time. After some delay at the gate because of “mechanical” errors (a little foreshadowing…) we left Atlanta for Albany, Georgia…a short 34 minute flight. We all slept some on the plan and woke in time for our final descent…When our pilot came over the intercom and said, “I have some unfortunate news. There has been a technical failure.” Not the words you want to hear on a small plane hanging in the sky!  We soon discovered that we would be rerouted to Valdosta, a small airport that has a longer runway for our emergency landing. The flight attendant warned us that it would be bumpy and not to fret about the fire engines that would greet our flight.

The landing was quick, but smooth. We were soon on the ground in Valdosta. We could not immediately get off the plane because the airport was already “at capacity.” (I’m using quotes because some of this is just too good to exaggerate!) When we exited the plane and entered the airport we discovered why the airport was at capacity… Given no instruction or plan, we got a rental car in a moderately convoluted way, picked up a new friend going home toward Albany, and hit the road. It was pouring and we were starving, so we all stopped at IHOP. We eventually meandered to Sylvester, Georgia, Peanut Capital of the world. 🙂 From Sylvester we took the long, but beautiful, drive to Americus.

The farm was gorgeous, the people were nice, and the food was good. We began making friends that evening through sessions, small groups, and food. But above all, we were exhausted. We eventually cleaned and climbed into bed, ready for a good night’s sleep. When we woke up, we were all refreshed and while it was storming and pouring rain, we were ready for a wonderful day. We had a gorgeous contemplative worship service on Sunday morning before we hit our group leader’s homes for breakfast. My group leader, Kurt, made farm fresh eggs with veggies, oatmeal, grits, and pastries. We sat around chatting about composting toilets, holidays, and community. My group was somewhat multi-generational. There were three girls and about 5 boys. The two other ladies were college students as were a handful of the men. A couple of the men were older. We represented a few states, but most of the group was from Georgia.

The day continued and included more food, meeting the community animals (including a precious kitten named Oliver), and had some interesting sessions. Tim Otto (who wrote a book on my bookshelf!) lead most of the sessions, but members of Koinonia and Jubilee (Koinonia’s daughter community) also lead a few sessions. We discussed love, grace, Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, books, and life. We discussed privilege and power, which means a great deal more than wealth. I have a lot of power and privilege as an advocate for the GLBTQ community simply because I am heterosexual. I have a great deal of power and privilege because I am an educated, white woman. I cannot change these pieces of me, but I can use my power and privilege for good rather than evil. Like the Good Samaritan who used his wealth to care for the marginalized, I want to live my life in a way that honors the marginalized.

We talked about love and commitment, which means a lot to me as I am preparing for marriage in 3 short months. The world does not speak much of lifelong commitment, but monasticism does. Monks take a vow of stability, committing to live in one place for life, regardless. They have no idea what that community is going to look like in 40 years, but they commit. I do not know what my life is going to look like with Jarrod in 40 years, but I am committing to spending the rest of our lives together. In the same way, I learned that this commitment and love is not meant entirely for the community. The healthy marriage is not intended to simply bless the couple, but the world. In community (family, marriage, intentional living communities, etc) there is a duality that rests on strengthening a community internally while also reaching out to outsiders. These two key points cannot exist without each other.

At Epworth we take it very serious to pray together every night. Very few things get in my way from being at the table by 10pm. We read a Psalm and talk about what is going on in our lives. We talk about how things are in our souls and what the spirit is doing in our lives. We lift up prayer concerns and joys of our community and pray together. This is crucial. Intentional community, healthy community does not just happen because of mutual space, but through shared experience, prayer, concern, and love.

We left Koinonia changed people. The world is different now because of that experience. While I do not think that I will be living in a large intentional community anytime in the next few years, I know that I will take what I have learned as I enter into a very small intentional community between Jarrod and I. (and our cats and dog…) I am especially excited to see how we can begin to balance serving each other and loving our community. While life is stressful in transition, it is also exciting to be on the brink of a huge adventure.

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