Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Epiphany in the Panera bathroom

This morning I was washing my hands at Panera before my Monday morning accountability group, and a light bulb went on. (Don't laugh – many of the men who read this blog would say that some of their best thinking comes in the bathroom.)

What had made me resistant to bringing the woman in the wheelchair into my home was that relationally, emotionally, and physically, Diane and I feel maxed out. The demands of work, ministry, and three small children add up quickly, and adding another person to that mix, a person that could quickly become consuming, felt like death to my soul. But what if Diane and I weren't the only adults in our home available to this woman? What if there were one or two others, in different life stages with different demands, who could help us shoulder the load, to really care for her well and weave her into the fabric of community? That doesn't seem so bad. That actually seems doable.

I'm not saying anything that Shane Claiborne and others in the New Monastic movement haven't been saying for the past few years, but it's one thing to hear it said and another thing to envision for how community might embolden and enliven my own ministry here and now.

Community is more than proximity; it is also intentionality and mutual service and sacrifice, and right now, that seems to be lacking for Diane and me. We have a housemate, but since she has a separate entrance and separate kitchen, our lives also seem separate, even though we do have some overlap in ministry. I think that to re-structure our life around community would take more than a simple, "Let's do this;" I think it would entail remodeling our home to connect the upstairs and downstairs and to add a room or two somehow or it would entail buying a new, larger home altogether. It would take a physical restructuring to complement our new commitment. Both of those home-building ideas require money without promise of a return that helps us recoup that investment. But could it be worth it?

5 comments:

greatsmitten.com said...

Marshall - This idea of community has been on my heart lately too...

and I get my best ideas in the shower.

Faith

B-U-R-L-Y said...

Can I laugh at the fact that you were in a men's accountability group at Panera? Hahahaha! Go to a bar or Starbucks or something, dude. So I can call you a man. Not a Panerified Woman! Sheesh dude ... or should I say sheesh lady?

Good post, though.

Marshall said...

Harsh, Burly. Funny, but harsh

B-U-R-L-Y said...

I have a confession. I met with a friend at Starbucks for "accountability" last night. I had a decaffeinated coffee. That's not the confession. That's irrelevant build-up. I really wanted to go to "The Pub" (that's the name of the bar) to drink club soda. That's the confession.

Alex said...

marsh,

great couple of posts here. i wonder about a couple of things.

first, that healthy boundaries are good for you and your family regardless of housemates/communal living. part of the problems most folks have who are in troubled situations is they haven't had healthy relationships. they've either been overly enmeshed/dependent/abusive or overly distant. to have healthy boundaries is a good thing in general for you and for people who haven't had healthy boundaried relationships their whole lives, though i obviously don't know this specific situation and clearly there are times when we're called to break boundaries to serve/walk that extra mile.

second, i think communal living is pretty much the way to go--and possibly a matter of long-term survival given the path you're in and the resources emotionally and otherwise required of you...