I spent the day at Biola on Friday for work. I got there a bit early so I walked around campus. The scents and sounds filled my mind with memories of what seems like a life time ago.The roses by Flour fountain, the bell chimes, the eucalyptus trees lining the library walk way. This place was home for four years. Considering I’ve moved almost every year since I graduated, that is a record!
As I walked through the caf, I thought about how many, many times I had done this before. I thought about how rare it was that I would have to eat alone. There was always a friend around. After sharing a meal and talking for a while after, we would walk back to Stewart Hall. Most of the time we would end up all gathered together again in the lobby where we would spend the rest of the night. That was best the thing about my time at Biola. My community. We ate together. Went to class together. Lived together. Did life together.
My thoughts have been full of the idea of community lately. We talk about it at church. At life group. It has become one of those buzzwords. But as I was at a birthday party last weekend, we all stood around a table talking about relationships, priorities and the changes we were all experiencing. One of them mentioned how he hoped that we would still be doing this in 20 years. My heart ached at the thought of not having my community, this community, with me in 20 years.
Life happens and things change. People move on. And that sucks!! I feel like we are fed this idea, this lie, that we have to make it on our own. That we have to move out on our own, pave our own way, do our own thing. We want to get our own place. What we want is so individualistic. I should be saying I, instead of we, because I have come to accept this as how it should be.
Before we graduated, my friends and I had this dream that we would all move to uptown Whittier, rent a duplex and have our lives be one long Friends episode. It was going to be amazing. It obviously never happened, but how incredible would that have been?!
While reading my daily list of blogs, I came to one by Shauna Niequist,
“Sometimes I find myself thinking about the people I love, all spread out all over the country, and I think: why are we so far apart? Would it be insane to move houses or cities or states because of friendship? Doesn’t it sort of make sense? People move for jobs, for love, to be near their parents or in a city they like. People move to be in good school systems for their kids or according to God’s call to a church or ministry. People move for houses they fall in love with and shorter commutes. Do people move for friendship? Have you? Would you? This is what I want, in my secret crazy heart: I want to pick a neighborhood and put out the call: let’s do this! Let’s stop texting and seeing each other twice a year, if that. Let’s pick a neighborhood, and let’s move there and raise our kids together and have dinner together twice a week and go running together and put our kids on the same bus in the morning. You know how I feel about friendship, that I believe, really and truly, that friendship is God’s best evidence of himself here on earth. You know I believe that friendships shape us, heal us, transform us. You know I think they’re hard, and worth putting in the time and awkwardness and vulnerability that real friendships require. This is my question these days: when you have friendships that are so dear to you, when you feel so seen and loved and connected and thankful for what these amazing people bring you, why wouldn’t we change our lives, or at the very least, our location for them?
As I read this, my heart shouted YES. I think about the book of Acts and how the early church lived. This is how lived. They were all in the same neighborhood. They ate dinner together. I imagine they played games together over a cup of coffee. They worshipped together. They shared. They gave. They loved. They grieved. They rejoiced. TOGETHER.
If living next door to your community isn’t a reality at this moment, what would it look like for us (me!) to still live like this? To be present, truly present with those in our life?