Our Community

Yesterday I went to the market on my scooter, in the town about forty-five minutes from where I live. I bought some fabric from a man who refused to let me pay my bill before he could give me tea.  He told me that next time I come, I must have a samosa, too.

While I was driving, many thoughts went through my head, as thoughts always do when I am traveling in the luxury of my own company.

Isn't it amazing that a landscape can wind itself into you? How you may not have noticed every lovely detail when you were new and raw in your transition, but now, two years later, that lone magnolia tree in a field can bring you to tears? Or the egrets, the great white birds, friends of cows and water buffalos, winging over the emerald rice paddies, the egrets have you waving after them foolishly, able to do nothing more than put your hand up toward the sky as if you thought you could touch them.

How you love even the dustiness, the color of it, all the lonely dusty roads and fields, crisscrossing like veins over a vast country.

India is certainly majestic. But it is not mine, not really, because I am from somewhere else.

We are preparing to go back for a visit, soon, to Canada and the U.S. I am thoughtful and sorrowful and excited and over the moon. And scared. And happy. And thoughtful.

But what I wanted to talk about, on this rambling evening, is the shape our community takes. Christine's question in the comments on the last post made me think that I take so much for granted, I'm never completely clear.  Actually, I'm never sure just how clear I should be, but I think I can tell you this.

Chinua and I have lived in community for all of our married lives, and for many years before. In fact, in the whole time we've been married, we've only spend five months out of intentional community.  We've lived in many different situations.  There was the big house in San Francisco, with people everywhere, in all the kitchens, falling down the stairs, spilling out of the windows.  That was fun.  There was the house in Arcata, always changing. For a while it was all boys and me, and then it was a few couples with newborns, and then we moved back to San Francisco to a largish flat with all our babies and had lots of crazy fun interspersed with whispered fights in the hallways. That was crazy. And then we lived at the Land. A couple of times. There's lots to say about all of it, but what I will say is that I really love all those people I lived with, and I really believe in community.

This is the shape our community in Goa takes now.  There aren't so many of us, really. There have been six of us (adults) committed to being here for six months of the year. We have three small houses close together and one a little farther away. Our courtyards touch.  We eat lunch together everyday. We take turns cooking, and we have a circle once a week to decide who will cook on what day.

We are a meditation community, and we are followers of Jesus.  We do daily meditation in the Christian and Judaic traditions, and we focus especially on the Divine Presence of God among us.  In our weekly circle we also decide who will guide each meditation.

The committed people in our community keep the structure running, but it is an open community, which means that we have a lot of visitors.  The meditations are open to whoever would like to experience this kind of meditation, and lunch is always an open invitation. It's great, really, because we get the best of whoever is cooking; everyone can put their all into one or two meals a week. Lunch in my family is the biggest meal, and dinner is usually pretty snacky.  Sandwiches, or omelettes, or leftovers.

We live close together (the meditation space is on my rooftop) but Chinua and I and our family are the only ones living in our house. (Thank goodness, because we only have two bedrooms.) I love this. We run in and out of each other's kitchens, but we can find our own space, too.

Sometimes the rhythm of it all (the lunches everyday, the other meetings we have) gets repetitive to me, since every other waking hour is filled with the restraints of family life, but I remind myself that if I can sigh into the structure of it, into the restraint (as a friend of mine once said) I will gain the freedom to learn to truly love.

Our vision is for a Jesus focused, creative community exploring art and music as well as the disciplines of meditation and prayer and worship, in an international hub. Goa is the place for us, right now.

We will be back here in October, for our third season. If you are interested in something like this, something rather crazy and fun, you can email me.

So.  I hope that clears things up.  If you're interested, I can write more on meditation in the future.

This feels like a letter, somehow.

I'll sign it,