Saturday, December 29, 2012

home on the farm

Villa farm

This morning, I headed out to the Villa for one last Christmas celebration where I was greeted with Christmas hugs and kisses. Only some knew that I would be there so it was great to surprise the others. We sat around the table after breakfast drinking coffee and sharing stories about sled-riding, ice skating, and snow.

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take some snow pictures (even though I left my good camera at home). Cleveland is pretty, but nothing beats the Villa. All was quiet on the farm except for a flock of pigeons on the barn roof that scattered just as I took their picture.

I never thought that I would be a person who would feel at home on a farm. I'm a city (or close to it) girl. The only flowers my family ever grew were dandelions. I didn't know what vegetables were in season and when because Giant Eagle stocks the same vegetables all year long. (Never mind that the only vegetables ever served in my family's house are corn and potatoes). I remember feeling bad for my friends who lived "in the country" -- a whole 10 minutes from the mall. I figured that their life must be boring.

Now, after spending a year out in the country and 4 months working on a farm, I can see myself living in the country with cows as my neighbors. My home is now in the city and I love the close proximity to people and places, but I count the days until I can retreat to the quiet of the country.

Out to the woods and sheep barn

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

living community

Uzbek bread, raisins, cashews, & almonds
A few weeks ago, I sat down to an impromptu meal with an Uzbek family. Impromptu for me, but they had long planned to feed me dinner after I told them I'd be over at the end of the work day. Upon arriving, I was greeted at the door by the children, who welcomed me into their home like I was a long lost relative. I helped with homework, learned about Uzbekistan, listened to and shared family stories, and laughed. At one point during the meal, the father said, "When you eat bread together, you are family." His words have stuck with me for weeks now.

Sitting down for a meal together is something so simple that we often overlook it. How often do we grab dinner on the run? I've lived in intentional communities for 4 years now (college, FCV, JOY, and here). In each location, dinner time has been a sacred pause in our day. Some days, we cook and eat together sharing stories and rants about the day. It's a time to unwind, to check in with each other, and to laugh. As the father said, it's a time to build family (community) bonds.

A good fried from high school is moving in with us next week. Last night, I tried to explain this concept to her. How could I put this concept into words for someone who has never lived in community - or with roommates - before? I talked about sharing household expenses and tasks, cooking together, and setting aside time to spend with one another. I couldn't explain it clearly so I told her that she just needs to experience living it. Join us and our friends as we pile in our living room to watch the West Wing or go Christmas caroling through the neighborhood. Join us for coffee in the morning while we watch reruns. Join us for Mass or frisbee at the Lake when it's warm. Invite others over for dinner (or Saturday lunch) when we cook something delicious out of the same basic ingredients that we buy every week at the West Side market.

This morning, I was still trying to figure out a way to best describe my life when the Uzbek father stopped in my office to share some news. "When are you coming for dinner. My sons want to see their sister." I told him soon. Maybe I can take them around with me to explain family and community.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

He hasn't answered yet.

Today is the 32nd anniversary of the deaths of Sr. Ita Ford, Sr. Maura Clarke, Sr. Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donavon. They are the four American Churchwomen who were killed in El Salvador on Dec. 2, 1980.

"I'm 26 years old. I should be married. I shouldn't be running around doing all of these things. But then I think, I've got so many things I want to do. It's hard when I see my friends getting married and having babies, that's something I've thought I ever going to have kids? Sometimes I wonder if I'm denying that to myself. I really don't want to, but that's maybe what I'm doing. And then I sit there and talk to God and say, why are you doing this to me? Why can't I just be your little suburban housewife? He hasn't answered yet. Sometimes I get mad at God. Sometimes I tell God I'm going to chuck the whole thing, that I've had it." 
- Jean Donovan

My life exactly. Or, at the very least, exactly how I feel. Right now, I so resonate with the struggle Jean Donovan mentioned. I'm 26 years old and, as always, struggling between what I want and what I feel I should be doing. "Can't I be normal?" I'm frequently asking this. A slight shake of the head of a push in the opposite direction is the only answer (or non-answer) that I get. As my friends marry, I wonder "Will I have that?" or "Should I want to have that more?" I don't know the answer.

My grandma told someone that I flitted around like Hillary Clinton. No one knows what she meant, but I think she wanted me to put down some strings -- no more moving from state to state for volunteer programs. I can't stay still--there are too many things that I want to do. I can't imagine myself tied down to a family and home. I'd feel Despite this knowledge, I still wonder if that's what I should be doing.

(Here are some great reflections about the American Churchwomen: Wandering in Wonder, FaithJustice, and Share-El Salvador).