“We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.” –Dorothy Day
I haven’t spoken much about the specifics of community life (ie. my four housemates) on this blog so far this year. That choice was intentional—not because we aren’t getting along— out of respect for the privacy of my community members. While I intend to continue on in that fashion for their sakes’ (it’s one thing for me to spill details about my personal life on the internet, but it’s another for me to make that choice for them), I also know that writing about my experience as a JV is incomplete if I do not address this rather large chunk of my life in Boston.
After all, community is one of the four values of JVC, and after the time I put in at Casserly House, the next biggest chunk of time of my time is spent in community. And to be blunt—I really, really love my community, and I am so happy that I get to spend the next year with them.
The emphasis that JVC places on community is actually one of the major reasons why I picked it over other service programs (well, and the fact that SLU taught me to love the Jesuits). College taught me about community on an entirely new level, and I knew that my experience doing a year of service wouldn’t be complete without having other people to intentionally experience it with.
And on a practical level, the idea of moving to a new city where I didn’t know anyone was incredibly intimidating. Already, after just a couple of months together, I can’t imagine what this year would be like without them. I am so glad that I come home from my day at work to people who are ready and willing to be there for whatever I may need (and of course, I am here to reciprocate).
To address the obvious, we are a community of just women, which is not the case for most JV communities. Initially, I had mixed feelings about how that would work out; I think everyone assumes (falsely, and stupidly, if you ask me) that a house full of women is going to be full of drama, but I like that we have proved that stereotype wrong. Yes, in some ways we are stereotypically “girly” (ie. we borrow each other’s nail polish and talk about things like shoes far more than we would if we were a co-ed community), but more importantly, I think it allows us to be able to bond on a different level (not better neccesarily–just different).
More importantly, however, the main reason why I think we have had such a positive experience so far as a community is that we were all clear from the beginning about what we wanted and needed from each other during this experience. And to put it bluntly, we all realize that we need each other to survive this year… because at the end of the day, no one else will understand like they will, what I’ve already been through and what I have yet to go through.
Community is a gift, and I hope that I don’t get to the point where I take it for granted. Living with these women is such a visible confirmation of those words of Dorothy Day at the beginning of this post. This afternoon, I was re-reading part of my journal, and I came across a quote I had written down from Fr. Quinn, one of my favorite Jesuits from SLU, that also sums this idea up: “People are avenues of grace.”
In short: I am so grateful for the blessings of community.