We build communities all throughout our lives. We often join churches, social clubs, or an athletic team. Community is also created in families and groups of friends. There is a unique type of community that I have come to be a part of that is known as “Intentional Community.”
I am a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV), and I live in an intentional community. I believe that I was called to serve in New Orleans, and to actively be a member of an intentional community. I was called to by God to draw closer to him and to get to know myself better through my faith. It was being in intentional community that helped me seek out my personal relationship with God. Hearing other members of my community share their stories, and being able to tell mine, pushed me to identify the moments in life where God is present and to remain faithful when He is not present.
Intentional community was described by Henri Nouwen as:
“[A] fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.”
This reflects how I feel about my position in my own intentional community. I see my intentional community as not just those whom I live with, but the larger geographic community. I am working intentionally in south Louisiana and in Chinese Presbyterian Church (where I work) to show love and compassion to others. It is important to become a force of positivity in the community that exists outside of your home as a source of bonding within the group. To work together as different parts of the body of Christ builds hope not only in us as an intentional community, but we are able to pass on that hope to people we meet so that they may wonder what it is we are a part of.
I know that I have been changed by the members of my intentional community. They have been able to show me where I must grow, and where I have been given gifts of the Spirit.
Recently, I was about to embark on a day of service with my community. We had to be up very early, and I was in a negative mood and not at all excited about clearing lots. We arrived at our worksite, and they had set up an area with blankets and books for children of the neighbor hood to come by and enjoy. When we were asked if anyone wanted to help with that, my hand shot up. I was excited to help with reading because I knew I was good at that. However, after some time passed and no children were showing up, I was asked to help start on clearing the lot I was next to. I begrudgingly picked up a shovel, began to dig up some very deep-rooted weeds. After about an hour or so, I was getting tired but the progress with four other women helping was amazing. We had cleared the entire front of the lot, including a large amount of trash and debris that was hidden by all the foliage. I felt so enthused and accomplished.
That is what intentional community is. We don’t always have the best attitude, and sometimes we enter with some negative baggage. With a request for help and hands dedicated to a similar goal, we are able to dig up the deep-rooted weeds that bind us and clear away our littered hearts to find something new and amazing in each other and in ourselves.
The kids showed up later that afternoon.
Learning to cajun dance with a partner