Stability, Freedom and Wonder

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This the beginning of my third week here and I think I have adjusted quite well. Most of my friends and family have asked questions about how I like Richmond and what it has been like getting used to the rhythm of intentional community. The short answer is I really like Richmond and the same goes for living at Richmond Hill. Maybe it is being in a new place, but something in me feels lighter and freer than I have in a very long time. Space has opened up in my heart and mind for something new and that fullness/emptiness feels exuberant. With everything being so new, I have been able to recover my exploratory spirit, to wander with wonder. hat is priceless. Lastly, there is some level of uncertainly about my life and experience here that feel exciting while the structure and rhythm of community is comforting. Structure, Freedom and Wonder… a great recipe for a type A, free spirit. 

What I like best? Well that is what this blog post is about.

City Life

Richmond or RVA as it is affectionately called, I think I might be falling for pretty hard and fast. I has a lot of history, nature and culture. Right down the block from me is the liberty trail, the slave trail, around the corner from me is where the lines “give me liberty or give me death” were spoken. There are also about 5 parks within walking distance from my house, the river is minutes away along with a bunch of restaurants and coffee shops…a great place for a Buppie (Black Urban Professional). It seems like a city with many issues, but a lot of promise. I want to get to know it’s past and present and I will be working and praying for its future. This fall I am going to a lecture series on the history of Richmond taking place at Richmond Hill, which will focus on its unhealed racial history. I will also get to participate in a training for people who want to lead dialogue around race and difference. I am excited about both. Culturally, I am looking forward to attending the many festivals that are happening this fall, the 2nd street African American Festival, the Indian Festival and the Folk Music Festival. Richmond seems to have good art and architecture, both of which I appreciate and believe enhance a city from a personal and professional perspective.

To get to know the city a bit, I am going to try to visit different coffee shops throughout the neighborhoods. Today, I am at the Globe Hopper,  its my 4th. They have a full menu, good day old muffins and my favorite type of iced tea — Hibiscus. So far, I have been to a free concert in the park put on by the Virginia Opera, Maymont Mansion and Park (great Chinese and Japanese gardens), walked/ran Canal Walk along the river, Forest Hill Farmer’s Market, free walking tour of downtown, a 80’s/90’s dance party and got a $2 movie at the restored Byrd Theater in Carytown. Fun stuff! Will, who is transitioning out of community here has been my coconspirator in some of these ventures, which has also been fun.

Community Life 

Community Life runs like a well oiled ship here, so all I had to really do is just on deck. I guess I am a quick study and/or was just ready to live in community, because it seems rather simple although it has a lot of moving parts. I like the sense of being a part of something that I believe in and the level of accountability and responsibility that entails. Much of our lives revolve around prayer and hospitality. I will lead prayer every Tuesday morning (again very simple, but a good amount happens in those 15 minutes), help with cleaning up after dinner twice a week, co- host a retreat two weekends a month and have cleaning assignments. Will loves to wash dishes and calls it “getting his Brother Lawrence on”, he is a red headed future pastor that loves puns. Linda hates making beds but uses it as a time of prayer and communion with God, she is always smiling and grateful. I made beds on the 2nd floor last week and I think I agree with Linda on that one. I’ll be taking out trash and dusting from now on. My other assignment is keeping the Chapel clean…vacuuming, dusting, cleaning glass. It’s not glamorous, but necessary. All 10 of us, from Director to Service Corps Members (that is what I am) do it. There is a sense of humility that comes with hospitality. I appreciate that, it all seems meaningful and collective. Aside from all of this, we all have other jobs within the organization. Rapid Transit is what I will be working on. Richmond is 92 out of 100 of the nation’s top cities as it relates to public transportation, so I am happy to be a part of a visionary movement to increase access and connection in a racially and economically divided region.

Relationally, I really like everyone. We range from 28 to 73 years old think, black and white and a range of denominations. I like the ecumenism, as I have gone to a few different churches and don’t know exactly where I fit. It doesn’t seem to matter so much here for those who live here or those who visit us. A woman that I had lunch with this weekend was overjoyed by her first experience of a black woman serving communion, that was beautiful to hear her reflect on. Our Monday worship service is diverse, denominationally and about 50/50 black white.  It’s a unique space within the community and I am delighted to take it all in and have some small part in the mechanics.

Generally, it I feels like we all have our own personal space and we come together to invite people into our larger communal space. They pray and eat with us, have meetings, walk the gardens, chat with us, retreat, receive and go home. We keep our home clean for them and our hearts open to them. Simple, although ALOT of things have to happen to make that a reality. I appreciate the focus and the freedom, the rhythm and the spontaneity, the vision/purpose but also the spirit of discernment that pervades this place. It has provoked both a light heartedness and a sense of solidity in me.

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