I won’t lie, community is not what I expected it to be. It really isn’t like sampling a delicious, delectable, many layered slice of German chocolate cake – surprise. While there are layers, sometimes they are less like spongy, cocoa goodness and more like a teary-eyed onion dreariness. I have learned time and time again this past month that community, like all flourishing relationships, do not arise overnight, that they are cultivated into something beautiful over time, and intentional love is absolutely necessary. When we do not purposefully love each other, or intentionally decide to listen rather than spit out our world views all the time, our community takes a step or two back. I’ve learned that boundaries are important, and that if someone does not share your theological viewpoint, no matter how obvious it seems to you, it isn’t the most graceful thing to impose it upon people you have just met. I am quick to declare myself, to make my positions known, to spit out words that make sense to me that might make myself admired by the others in our community. Pride gets in the way. I came to MN so excited about finally being a part of what promised to be true, interdependent community, that I find myself time and time again rushing into it or expecting way too much from my peers. This week God has been humbling me in this way, showing me that it is really His grace that allows community to be fruitful, that growth, especially my own growth in Christ, takes time. I think I’m really beginning to understand really how slow growth is, that God works on my heart and soul like a careful and mindful gardener. It’s like I am a little seed in the dead of fall, willing myself into becoming a beautiful, vibrant flower, without waiting for things like the sun, warm weather, plenty or rain, or basic nutrients to nourish me first. God has gracefully been showing me that it just doesn’t work that way.

Anyway, there has definitely been tension within the community, as a few of us really aren’t satisfied with our volunteer placements and that is definitely affecting everyone. We are beginning to notice our differences, and they go pretty deep sometimes, and that is uncomfortable. We are learning to be good listeners, we are learning to respect each other. I think we all could use a good day away from work and Saint Cloud, to be together and just have fun, maybe to process things internally, experience some of God’s beautiful creation, and just put up our feet. So this weekend is coming just in time. We are traveling up to Lake Superior, my first trip since I got here. I can’t wait.