We, a Community

“I can’t wait to see the woman you are in 5 years,” a roommate told me three years ago, and I thought it profound enough to write down in my journal. I remembered how my heart swelled when I heard it. It was a Mansion moment. Just one moment in a house of 16 women which we called the Mansion. It shouldn’t have worked. Common expectation was that we would tear each other apart. After I moved in someone (can’t remember who) informed me that in technical legal terms a house with over 15 women was considered a brothel! We were not. We were a community house facilitated by the Christian club we were a part of on campus. We fought about chores and dishes, a Bible verse was easily found, and the house was always full of people, sound, and life. I spent some time crying and thinking on the top of the stairs that year. It was an old service stairway from back in the day when the house had needed a separate entrance for servants. You could watch the stoplight down the street change from red, yellow, and finally to green through a large window across from the top stair. I laughed a lot on the couches with my roommates on lazy Sunday afternoons when the sun poured in.

I’m stacking all the photos in the front of a book

And feeling down, down, down

These walls have seen the bones of us

These walls… will never fall

-“Stairwell Wall,” Ben Hammersley.

There were 16 of us in that house, and now there are 15. We couldn’t wait to see who Jessica was going to be in 5 years. Everyone knew about her dream to become a veterinarian. We all heard her stories around the two tables smashed and literally tied together to function as a dinner table. I remember her walking to her truck in high-heeled boots and a nice blazer, “Jessica! you look nice!” I told her. I remember her opening and closing the cupboards as I sat eating cereal. I remember her being a roommate. To lose her feels like a breaking of the table. It reminds me of the Chronicles of Narnia when Aslan breaks the stone. It cracks with the grief and triumph over death. That’s what grief is though, a piercing point that spreads out like little cracks across a community. and at the center is a family, and theirs is the greatest. I can’t pretend mine is the same.

Every loss is fresh. Every joy is punctuated with hope.

Isn’t life a lot like a stoplight? Stop, wait, go. Stop, wait, go. Just when you get used to the frenzy of a green season where it’s all speed and change and progress you find yourself stalled in the glow of yellow light telling you to wait. How quickly we ignore the warning signs and put our foot down on the gas pedal and speed through the chapters of introspection and closed doors. Until suddenly, the red light comes, and we must stop. We must stop and listen to our breaths, stop and listen to our hearts, because death and pain demand an answer, death is the stop we hate to admit must come. Perhaps, it’s softer than that. Perhaps the stop is merely a setback or a disappointment. Or a case of the flu.

Stop,wait, go. Stop,wait, go.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

I have eternity set in my heart, and feel trapped in this world with it’s limits and stops. Yet everyone knows that a comedian’s pause fills the room with the most laughter. A rest in music creates the dramatic tension where we must breathe in. When we take in current events, we feel the panic and division rising, yet we know that we exist forever. How does this dichotomy get resolved? Do we march, shout, and struggle? I find solace in art, most specifically well written pieces of writing. Maybe a painting a two. Or perhaps a house full of people, life, and sound.

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