On Intentional Community: Not Idealistic, Practical
I have been intrigued by Intentional Community for quite some time now. In college, I remember my dreams and desires being lit aflame in the study of monasticism. I have a dream of living in an intentional community, and while that dream is still being developed and cultivated, I live it in part now as my family lives with my parents. While remaining an idealist, I maintain one does not have to be in search of utopia to benefit from sharing life with others. I will happily unpack more the challenges of community, but here are three ways that living together is practical and, in fact, beneficial:
1) Different Strengths and Skills. We are able to combine strengths and skills not only of a partnership but of several adults. My dad likes working with electrical wiring, I don't. I like digging in the dirt, he doesn't. By having diverse skills and strengths we can augment each other and cover the bases.
2) Learning and Growing Never Cease. If you're in a relationship, you know there can be great friction with your partner from time to time. Two people being and becoming together is not always easy but is a constant opportunity to GROW. In our community meetings, we all can embrace the perspective and accountability of others to be our best. This does require us to be level-headed, secure in who we are, and open to listening and learning; no small task. Being with others has helped me grow far faster than I believe I would otherwise.
3) Reclaiming the Village Starts Here. It has been said, "it takes a village to raise a child." If this is the case, why do we choose to spread our "village" of people out across cities and neighborhoods and schedules? By living as a community, both children and parents can lean on the support of others. Different ages and stages create synergy and lend perspective. Life becomes bigger, fuller richer. Meals are shared and so is the preparation. Gardens are planted and harvested. Work is done with thankful hearts and grubby hands. My kids get great access to the grandparents! Money can be pooled and chores can be split up. So great! I didn't imagine moving back in with Mom and Dad, but I am so thankful we did.
While it sounds scary or silly to some, intentional community is far from naive and idealistic, it can be quite practical.