Well, folks, here we are. In less than two weeks, I will have officially wrapped up my Urban Servant Corps adventure and will be on my way back to the great Midwest to begin the next chapter. This year has been everything I could have ever imagined—beautiful, frustrating, challenging, messy, an absolute blast, devastating, joy-filled, exhausting, and life-giving, all in one. I may not know exactly how this year will continue to shape me in years to come, but I do know that I have forever been changed by my experiences serving at The Gathering Place and living in intentional community. I have a lot to process in the coming weeks, and for me, this is often best done through writing. So, here is Part 1 (of who knows how many) in a new series of posts I like to call “Alex Attempts to Process This Crazy Denver Adventure.”
This year has been one on-going lesson in learning to spot the sacred in the midst of the seemingly ordinary moments, in finding deeply spiritual practices (such as prayer, worship, communion, baptism, confession and forgiveness) in the midst of everyday life. Living in intentional community with seven other people (who only 11 months ago were complete strangers) provides ample opportunity for each of these practices to be lived—communion, in sharing of meals around our dinner table and the holy conversation that held us together when everything else seemed to crumble; confession and forgiveness, as we learned to recognize and claim our own faults, worked both communally and individually to name and bring out the best in each other, and forgave each other time and time again; baptism, as we found new life breathed into our community when we needed it most and as we each claimed an identity as part of our Urban Servant Corps community, an identity that stuck with us the entire year no matter how much our community or its individuals struggled. These practices as lived out in our community were not polished, rehearsed, or even pretty most of the time. Our life together was messy, authentic, and oh so very beautiful. It wasn’t perfect, but in many ways I think it was the Church at its best. And I am grateful for every minute.
So here’s to the sacredness of the late nights with the guitars, 90’s pop music, impromptu living room dance parties, and messes to be cleaned up in the morning.
Here’s to the raw beauty of those nights gathered around the dinner table, with our slightly broken and wobbly chairs and (mostly) delicious concoctions of expired and donated food.
Here’s to the (usually) grace-filled debates about religion and current events peppered with lighthearted laughter over cheap happy hour beers.
Here’s to the holy tears shed in the living room as we processed particularly emotional days after working with clients caught in the clutches of homelessness, poverty, mental illness, domestic abuse, and addiction.
Here’s to the life-giving community camping trips, mountain excursions, and downtown Denver adventures.
Here’s to the tense, even annoying, conversations about chores, community expectations, and how to spend our limited volunteer budget that, in the end, helped us to be a better community that was committed to each of its members.
Here’s to a year-long immersion into life as the Body of Christ at both its messiest and its most beautiful, with all of its imperfections and quirks, passion and love. I am forever grateful.
Soli Deo Gloria.