Our front porch. The pumpkin stand was donated by William Terry. We are all very grateful for his generosity.  Especially Candace.

Our front porch.
The pumpkin stand was donated by William Terry.
We are all very grateful for his generosity.
Especially Candace.

Autumn

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

 

We have a small landing on the third floor at the Lotus House. It is normally a pretty empty space, occupied by a small trash can for recycling for the three of us who live up there. Recently, it has become the new home of three window unit air conditioners. This can only mean one thing. Autumn has come to Lotus.

Autumn brought with it a lot of excitement. We have added a new novice, Scott, who had been a regular community dinner attender. We have been busy with work and school; with travel and service.

The Bass family went to New York City for a vacation. Since they’ve returned, the rest of us have enjoyed being regaled with stories of a lot of “firsts” they were able to have with the kids (first flight, first subway ride).

While they were there they joined Daniel (who had been on a separate vacation with his family in the city) and attended the Nurturing Communities Project Gathering hosted by the Platte Clove Bruderhof community. They met up with old friends like David Janzen, and made many new ones. The kids especially enjoyed being in the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Everyone came back renewed and their excitement has filled the whole house.

Alden and Candace at the Nurturing Communities Project Gathering

Autumn has tastes, just as sure as summer does. So our fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and salads have given way to butternut squash, pumpkins, and soups. Our meals are no longer being enjoyed around our gargantuan (if a bit rickety) picnic table in the middle of a blooming garden, but have been moved in around the warmth of our dining room table.

The colder weather also means that deer season is almost upon us. We are putting a lot of effort into emptying the freezer so there will be space for the bounty that William is sure to provide. I think we should start taking bids on how many deer William will bring in this season. My guess is ten.

The house is preparing to celebrate our fifth anniversary this December. We are hoping to get all of the previous members together for a celebration. It is an exciting time to look back on what the Lord has done in this small place. We are also looking forward, trusting in God’s Spirit to guide us. One of the things that we are discerning together as a community right now is expanding into a second house. This would be a big move for us as a community and it would probably require at least one or two new members to be called to join our life together in the north city.

Thirza's salsa before canning—yum!

Thirza’s salsa before canning—yum!

Life at Lotus is just normal life. Normal life with the regular rhythm of excitement, boredom and busyness that we’ve all come to expect. We are busy with work, with school, with travel. We pray together, we eat together, we serve together, and we laugh together.

Of course, normal life is never just normal, it is pure gift. Every day is full of great and small joys. Joys like seeing Dylan fall in love with reading. Joys like having family come into town for a visit and sharing life with the house. Joys like enjoying the delicious salsa canned weeks ago by Thirza.

Life is also never normal because it is always a struggle, there are always powers and principalities (as St. Paul calls them) at work in the world. Though these powers have been dealt a fatal blow through God’s action in Jesus Christ, they still have the ability to shipwreck us. When we see these powers grab hold of the people we love, of the place we live, of ourselves and our friends and family, we mourn. Normal life is life touched by tragedy. Some here at Lotus have known this all too well recently.

I’m reminded of the time near the conclusion of Acts when Paul is sailing toward Rome. While he and his companions are on the way, the ship is beset by a storm. In the midst of the harrowing scene the people in the boat try to do anything they can to gain control over the situation, they try turning the ship, lowering the anchor, praying, and eventually they desperately throw the cargo overboard to save their lives. The storm continues for many days and neither the sun nor stars could be seen. They are hopelessly adrift for more than a week in the midst of an unimaginable storm. Indeed, Luke writes, “all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”

Finally, several of them, completely overwhelmed with the seeming inevitability of death, attempt to flee the ship. It’s the only hope they have. To go it alone, hoping against hope to make it to shore.

Paul stops them.

He says to the centurion and soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved” (Acts 27:31). The men stay. Everyone survives and makes it to the shore.

The fathers in the early centuries of the church understood the ship in this passage, tormented as it is by the sea, to be an image of the historical church, struggling in the world against the powers and principalities. The church needs this story of God’s faithful protection of his people, for the church is not promised a tragedy-free existence. Indeed, we are promised by Jesus himself that we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33). Yet no matter how much trouble we have, no matter how violent the storm’s wind blows, we know that God will save us; we know that we will make it to His shore. But, like the story in Acts, we will only make it to the shore if we stay together. Everyone must be on the ship, for we are saved, not as individual people, but as a people. We are saved together.

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

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