When I was finishing college, I (like most English majors I know) had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I contemplated going on to grad school or being involved in some sort of campus ministry. Mostly I was just completely lost. I had had a difficult year of depression and spiritual darkness, and what I really needed was rest and a chance to find my footing, though I was the last to admit it. Once I dropped all of the mature sounding ideas, like graduate school, and started concocting plans to drive cross county and live the hippie lifestyle in San Francisco (with no money and no job prospects) some wiser, older friends stepped in with better ideas.
My InterVarsity staff worker, in particular, knew of a group of folks who were moving into a house together to form a sort of Christian commune. Sounded edgy and fun, if not like San Francisco, so I drove up to meet my potential roommate. Next thing you know, I was agreeing to move in with five people, four of whom I had never met and all of whom were older than I. When I arrived in August, I had no job, very little money, and no idea what to expect. My college roommate was attending Divinity school in the same town, so I could always run to her if these commune people turned out to be crazy.
My mom helped me move and left me, 22 years old, fresh out of college, in an old rickety house with a bunch of strangers. I'm not sure what she thought when she left me there, but I was a little nervous, especially since all of the housemates left for a meeting at church that evening while I unpacked. The one who was working came home a bit later with a grocery bag in hand. After asking me how I felt about having alcohol in the house and receiving a positive response, he pulled some Guinness out of the bag, and said, "Good. Welcome to the commune."
And so began my hippie communist years, two of the best years of my life. We were an odd mix of personalities, one married couple, two single guys and two single gals, but we were committed to this experiment of living in community, even before "community" became the buzzword in Christian circles. We shared meals, worship, prayer, and lots of laughter. My housemates were there through the dating years of with my soon-to-be-husband, offering plenty of big sibling advice and cracking plenty of jokes at our expense. The guys even "interrogated" my husband the first time he came to join us for house dinner.
It was a sad day when we moved out of our big blue house with the front porch where we spent so many hours drinking, eating dessert, and talking. But we are still connected, as people are who live together and share life for any amount of time. We are still a community, though spread across the country and grown to include ten adults and nine children under the age of four. So it was easy to pick back up where we left off, when five of the six of us came together this weekend. We reminisced, enjoyed watching our children, shared meals, and celebrated the ways in which God has been faithful in leading us, even when we didn't see where we were going. I certainly didn't know where I was going when He took me to that commune, lost and in need of a community. But sometimes God meets us through a friend with a Guinness.
Funny, that housemate and his wife (the married couple of the commune) are moving to San Francisco. Maybe I will get there after all, but this time it will be for a good reason, thanks to my fellow communists, who helped me find my footing almost eight years ago.