I haven’t read Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s book, The Wisdom of Stability, but it is on my reading list. So this will simply be a reflection by the same name.

Living in intentional community is probably one of the first, serious, long-term decisions I have made in my life. Though to begin with, it was never intended to be more than a short-term fix to my immediate desire for meaningful friendship and cheap housing. All of my prior decisions on where to live were largely beyond my control, from moving as a child to the schools I attended for college and graduate school.  With relocating, it has been easier to leave relationships behind and uncultivated.  During the first two years of communal life, I definitely experienced feelings of restlessness.

Having lived in the same house and worked in the same place for nearly 5 years, I have now began to understand that conflict and spatial presence are necessary for meaningful relationships.  I could never have imagined occupying these two spaces for 5 years, and I would have believed myself to be flawed if someone told me this would happen. Middle-class western culture celebrates mobility, and often looks down upon those who remain in the same place for too long. We celebrate mobility and the accumulation of experiences, but these usually leave us feeling empty and unfulfilled.

I have learned that weathering initial conflict that occurs in the initial years leads to much more fulfilling relationships. The conflict I endured, and often avoided early in my communal experience, now seems so trivial, but at the time, could have been a primary reason to mobilize. But this conflict helped me to understand my own brokenness and restlesstness (along with reading Jean Vanier’s Community and Growth). When conflict and frustration occurred at work last year, my community was the first to support, listen, and pray, which gave me strength and patience to work through what ultimately became a more meaningful vocation and work relationships.  The decision to remain in intentional community has mostly been a passive decision, but the more I explore the things I want to do with my life, leaving community, or even this community, has become a decision that I do not take lightly.

One of the themes that I believe emerges from our covenant of the Lotus House is that we try to deflect the impulses that guide the spirit of this age. Our impulse is to act, but rather we strive to listen, to avoid buying, to avoid moving… we wait: to discern, to listen, and to ultimately determine if we are truly called to a new place in life.  We may still be called to relocate, but it will occur a lot less than we should expect.