Sometimes it happens that doors get closer together. After a neighborhood picnic, I got together with friends to play games. The subject of “community living” came up. What does it take when people are thrown together to live. When does this happen? It can happen at a jail, or a camp, an internship program, a dorm, or a group of people who live together to divide up rent into much smaller segments. Most often it is extended family with multiple members and multiple needs.
I was conversing with Karl, a young man, at our Saturday night game group. He is living with several young guys who are just starting careers or who are still in college.
“We have a new housemate, added to the four of us.” he interjected.
I asked him how it was working. He said it was fine so far. He described the set up. Each one thankfully has his own space and they share a kitchen. There have been different standards of “clean”. He said it didn’t matter about individual bedrooms, but the kitchen area is important. Consideration goes a long way.
“The shared kitchen is one of the best places in the house for informal conversations.” Karl stated.
They are working on the flow to makes sure everything stays somewhat neat and in order.
Karl said that he thought that community living would be a good thing, especially if there were young kids and families involved. And yes, those who have disabilities, and older people, with years of experience and ongoing wisdom. He likes the generations. I asked him if he thought there needed to be a common thread that brings them together. He said that for him it would be a “moral thread”. Things like honest communication, caring, and cooperation. I like his idea.
I like having community around, but I, for one, like my own space. I have gotten used to having time to be with myself. And I have people in and out of my home. I have community-living right here in my own neighborhood. The difference is that it is that there are yards between our homes, instead of walls between bedrooms. There is a young family, a couple, and me. We do not frequently camp out on one another’s door steps, but there is an understanding that we share. This is something that has evolved as we have begun to trust one another and have proper boundaries. This gives freedom to share. We share garden knowledge and tools, lawnmowers, the newspaper, food from our gardens, bicycles, and we have other kinds of hardware tools that we make available to one another. A couple of weeks ago, we helps one of our neighbors paint his walls. We all watch out for the kids. I have had the privilege to working daily with the 7 year old to practice his reading. I ride the trails and go to the park with the kids.
I would not have known this could work, unless I opened my doors in the first place or walked across the street to meet people. Some neighbors click. Others do not. And that is OK. I have lived here 7 years, and it has taken this long to feel close tomy neighbors. It is step by step.
It happens in time with patience. As we learn community and the patience and love it entails, it leads to these traits becoming a part of the large community, the city, our state, our nation, and the world. How is THAT for vision?