Explaining what I’m doing to these days is a challenge. I can’t really find the right combination of words to wholly express this work. I know to use words like “intentional community,” or “New Monasticism,” or “solidarity,” but they never seem to add up to totally encompass this lifestyle. And that might be exactly why the explaining gets me tongue-tied, because, yes, it does involve projects and 9ish-5ish work, but it is mainly a lifestyle, an awareness, a connectedness I am taking on.
I don’t remember exactly when I learned about Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and the New Monasticism movement—it must have been sometime in seminary—but my years at McAfee persistently showed me how attracted I was to their approach to Christian community. My first year in school challenged me to find a more imaginative approach to missions, offering solidarity as a holistic response. My second year showed me that my story was stronger when it was attached to those around me. My third year pushed me into the pain of reconciliation. At every point along the way, I noticed how beautifully intentional community brought all those pieces together into a justice-seeking way of life. I kept noticing how necessary and present Jesus was every day for my friends at Park Avenue, and I understood the same thing about intentional community. Without safety nets in place, they experience Jesus at his most powerful.
Richard Rohr says that we don’t think our way into a new way of living; we live our way into a new way of thinking. I am grateful that my time in seminary opened my eyes enough to this truth to compel me into this community here in Charlotte.
At this point in my journey, I don’t have any stories to share, but the lifestyle we lead is already transforming me. QC Family Tree has been in Enderly Park since 2005. We follow prayer liturgy together twice a day (at 7:45 a.m. and again at noon), and we eat all of our meals together. We make art, garden (sign up to help in the garden!) and recycle, aware of our paralyzing impact on our earth. We walk around the neighborhood, offer unrestrained hospitality in our two homes and hang out with the young people (every day, but especially for Devos on Wednesdays (sign up to come to/lead Devos!)). We host community meals twice every month (sign up to provide and serve a community meal!). We petition the government to have mercy on the poor. And we share all things in common. We are made whole every day by being tied to each other.
Jesus gave us doable, holistic practices so that we might fill our days full of God. He came and lived among us, challenging us to see holiness in our co-dependence. He gave us a lifestyle, and as we followed, we developed our systematic theologies from that miraculous, every day experience.
In Luke, Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor.” This verse, the same one that is foundational in Liberation Theology, gives us the inspiration to be with the poor—not just once-a-week, but always. When Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor,” we know, without a doubt, we’ll always find him there.