Editor’s note: In this blog, new missioner Rhonda Eckerman introduces her experience within Casa San Salvador. Coming into this new space, she reflects on the familiarity of the house as well as the community that’s been deeply ingrained within its foundation. She invites the reader into her home and onto the front porch for a slice of simple living that is warm and welcoming. 

Twelve strangers started an intentional community 25 days ago at Casa San Salvador in Washington DC. Before meeting, we all shared a common goal of service to others and walking with St. Francis to live the Franciscan way. For the first few weeks, time was spent getting to know a little about each other and maybe just as important, getting to know the beautiful house that would be our home. 

Casa San Salvador’s warm and welcoming personality comforts you like a fluffy old blanket. But it only took one or two days for these 12 guests to discover there were also delightful little quirks. For example, there is a light switch that no one knows what it goes to and bedroom floors that slant in different directions. There are certain burners on the stove that tend to cook the rice quicker and certain rooms on the first floor where you might want to wear your winter coat. We learned that one of the shower faucets on the second floor has switched handles, the hot is cold and the cold is hot and passed onto each other how long it takes the shower to turn warm (estimated at 4 minutes, 32 seconds).

The first week is all about getting to know the sounds of the Casa. The sound of the stairs squeaking when someone is going up or coming down or the way the floor above creaks with activity. At night, you can hear the soothing and rhythmic sound of water dripping off the roof long after the rain has stopped. The first week is spent learning to navigate the treacherous slope of the front steps and for some (okay, probably just me) the second week is spent practicing walking back up them without wanting to call an ambulance!   

But for all the little Casa quirks, everything is forgotten on the front porch. This beautiful front porch that overlooks lush large green trees, wild flowers and the activities of the neighborhood is an oasis. The sounds of birds, bugs and the laughter of the sisters across the street fill the air. The porch is a place where you can sit for hours rocking on the porch swing and never ever feel bored. The Casa porch is where you will hear one of the 12 guests whisper, “I already know I am going to miss this porch when I leave.”

This beautiful house has sheltered many people throughout the years and if it could talk, it would reassure us that flaws are beautiful and porch swinging is mandatory. After 25 days, we at the Casa are no longer strangers; we have shared with each other our hopes, dreams, fears and our mutual love for Casa San Salvador.