Monday, March 10, 2014

Bake Sales and Missing Helmets

I woke up from my nap to aromas of baked cookies and iced cakes. Our co-workers had chipped in to our bake sale with all of the ingredients that we couldn’t necessarily afford ourselves (It’s been really encouraging to see how invested they are in our community).
I joined all six of my housemates out in the common space. There were miniature pies, red velvet cakes, Toll House cookies and cream cheese icing in the making, boxes for packaging being processed. After observing for a few moments and offering my moral and emotional support, I began to prepare the sweet potato ravioli dinner that we were to eat that night.

With only a tin can of pasta sauce to use as a dough roller, I took about three hours to finish making our dinner. It was all from scratch and it was also my first time ever making ravioli. By the time we all showed up in the living room to eat (there was no room at the table), I was less than confident about the dish that I was previously so excited to serve. It looked pretty, but after warning everyone that this wasn’t my best meal, I received mixed comments like, “Yep, it’s pretty bad”, or, “No! This isn’t bad! You made it sound like we were all gonna throw up!”, to, “It’s okay…the dough is pretty thick”. We all laughed about what a flop it all was, some went for seconds. I definitely know never to make that dish again.

We spent the rest of the night finishing up baked goods. We went to our church the next morning and raised about 350.00 towards our fundraising goals selling off what we’d made the day before.


I see a lot of books and articles these days about how beautiful and necessary community is, but I don’t too often get to read or hear about the shitty and really painful realities that are present. I didn’t hear about the exhaustion that comes with feeling like you have to constantly defend and protect yourself from being wrong or from someone noticing and calling you out for how wrong you are. How overwhelming it feels to go from one extreme, being completely in love with your housemates to the next, being absolutely livid that you cannot find the damn bicycle helmets because someone decided to organize the closet and misplaced them. There was never any preparation for a lot of what I’m now facing six months into my life here. I am a little delirious, in a constant state of mental and emotional exhaust, nevertheless, I know this time is close to coming to an end and I see the past six months and this present moment as all places where I’ve become more of my True Self, moments where I’ve gotten to experience and relate with the Divine in so many extraordinary people.
There’s a Sacred place in my heart for moments that I deeply cherish. Days like last Saturday when we were all together doing something collectively, suffering through the burned hands, the sprained ankles and the tired bodies, the uncooperative dough, are times that I think will stand out to me once this season is over.
Sacred doesn’t always mean easy or “good”, beautiful doesn’t always mean neat and pretty. Sometimes Sacred and Beautiful means the painful process of reconciliation, the rage that comes from the dishes never being cleaned and the cleansing that comes from those moments. The shedding of nagging entitlement, of ego, of expectations of others.
There is death and resurrection here. Fire and gnashing of teeth, salty tears of Holy Water that fall from your face when you feel the sting of injustice, when you witness the completeness and rightness of reconciliation, of a stray being adopted into a loving home.
I’m heading home to North Carolina this Friday and although I’m excited for sleeping in, riding my bike and seeing the friends that I’ve missed, I am in anticipation for when I come back. After next week, the next time I go home from Texas will be my final farewell to Houston and to my housemates.What will that goodbye feel like? How empty will I feel the next weeks when I wake up to a quiet house, no morning devotionals, no family dinners to share with Heather and Kira and Charlie and Tarrin and Caleb and Rediet.
I can say that if I’m learning anything, I'm learning how to love.

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