Friday, April 29, 2011

In Service

While I've always meant for service and community to go together, sometimes they're at odds. Sometimes attending to service keeps me away from my community home.

One of the reasons I live in intentional community is that it offers an excellent platform from which to be of service. With shared living, it's possible for some members to take their hands off the wheel (of driving things at home) for stretches of time because there are other members to take their place. Then, when you come back to focusing at home, others can get a break.

Sometimes this means traveling to do things elsewhere; sometimes it means redirecting your attention without even missing a meal at home. Either way, it's uniquely possible in community to free people up for concentrated periods of time, to be of service to needs other than those on the home front. This is an important quality-of-life feature that is precious to me about community living.

This topic is up for me right now because I've paused on my way home from 29 days on the road to honor a last-minute request from a friend to help her prepare for a move. I checked with home (both my community and my wife—which requests are not processed identically) and got the green light to stretch my road trip by an additional three days, spent mostly moving boxes to and from a storage locker and a community donation site.

I'm thankful that I have room in my life to by there for friends in need. Thankful that I don't have 9-5 M-F employment, and therefore the flexibility to shoehorn this detour into an otherwise fully subscribed life. It's good to take a moment to realize that while it's my arms moving the boxes, it's backed up by many arms at home making my good Samaritan act possible.

The friend I was helping does not live in community, though she has in the past and clearly misses the relationships and support that are at the heart of it. Part of my time with her was listening to her talk about:
—Her struggle to fit together the disparate pieces of her life.
—The choices she faces in how to make a living as someone north of 60.
—The calculus she's using in trying to determine where to live.
—Her everyday experiences and observations—something that she doesn't dependably have the chance to share with others.

To be sure, she was looking for a stevedore, yet the listening may have ultimately counted for more. I'd listen and reflect back what I'd heard and what made sense based on our two+ decades of knowing each other. It's what friends do.

And I appreciate that my friend gave the the chance to be there for her these past 72 hours. It's a gift to be needed.

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