Editor’s Note: The DC Service Corps class of 2019 – 2020 introduces themselves through personal reflection on what matters most to them.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5
As I wrap up my second week as a volunteer with DC Service Corps, I am reminded of this passage from Romans that truly resonates with my understanding of community as the essence of our faith. Relationships with those around me are how I most deeply experience and understand God, and therefore community is something that I strongly value.
True community forces me to be vulnerable, encouraging me to surrender my independence and driving me to sacrifice my own desires, needs, and goals for those of the group. In this vulnerability is where I find God. When I allow myself to be molded by the people around me, to be shaped by their experiences, their views, their ideas, their values, their dreams, their strengths, and their shortcomings, and to accept their love, support, and encouragement, I feel that my horizons are expanding and I come to a more complete understanding of reality. And in this vulnerability amongst friends, I find a more comprehensive image of who God truly is.
I’ve been fortunate to be a member of a number of sacred communities throughout my life. My family has been a constant source of stability and guidance for me, tangibly demonstrating God’s patient and unconditional love. My cross country team in high school encouraged me to push my personal limits, to believe in myself, and to be my best self for others. The campus ministry program at my college helped me to strengthen my faith and to see God in all things. My best friends from my college years form a community of unconditional love, humor, joy, understanding, inspiration, and support that was foundational to my college experience, and that has continued to be my safe haven even since moving to DC.
In many cases, I think the sacredness of these communities stems not from the overtly religious nature of these communities, but rather from the way in which community fosters a kind of openness which allows the people around us to change our worldviews, our values, our goals, and ultimately, our hearts. I experience God in the people around me, and the way in which He works through them to change my own heart.
As we have frequently discussed here at the Casa, our living situation is quite unique – even “weird”, some might say. Here we are, fourteen individuals who were complete strangers before entering into this Casa community, sharing a home, meals, and a common commitment to making the world a better place. We come bringing our strengths, our insecurities, our frustrations, our quirks, our flaws, and, ideally, our genuine selves. Together, we fully embrace each individual for who she or he is. We become one body in Jesus Christ, something incredibly sacred, through the routine, familiar, and almost mundane practice of living together under a single roof. This is true community.
This year, my hope for myself and for others in my Casa community is that we may all strive to keep our hearts open and recognize the sacredness of community. Even when we struggle with the banal complexities of communal living, such as cleaning schedules, cooking duties, and grocery shopping, I pray that we might recognize the gift of community before us. Sacredness might derive from common faith values, but I think that genuine sacredness stems from the willingness to sacrifice, to be vulnerable, to share, and most importantly, to be open to God working through the people around us. Together, I believe we can embrace the perfect imperfection that is community life. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for our Casa community.