The support I receive from living in this community far surpasses the stress it creates. It’s not an intentional community without a little tension – and the tension is what makes it so beautiful.
One of the parts of the Saint Hilda’s House program that gave me the most trepidation while I was considering whether this would be the right opportunity for me was the concept of living in an intentional community. After spending four years living in various college dorms and apartments, I was no stranger to the concept of living in community, but was unsure about taking the next steps to being “intentional” about it. As a hippie wanna-be I was enticed by the idea of eight people living together and working towards a common goal; as an independent young adult I was concerned about having to shape my daily life around other people’s needs.
Obviously I chose the program, with the vague hope that the year would challenge me to grow as a person. Early on another Hildan explained to me the double meaning of the phrase intentional community: not only are we being “intentional” about how we live together, we are also in tension with each other because this is a diverse group of people with all kinds of backgrounds, life experiences, and expectations for the program.
That tension comes from many places: buying groceries, defining personal boundaries, keeping community areas clean, cooking for eight people, figuring out a chore schedule, agreeing on an evening activity . . . the list goes on, and will continue as people’s varying needs and expectations bump into each other in our close quarters.
One of the Merriam Webster definitions for tension is “a balance maintained in an artistic work between opposing forces or elements.” The tension between the opposing elements of our community (us) provides balance in our lives, and results in meaningful relationships that would not have been possible had we not worked through our disagreements.
After a rough day at work, I come home to find seven other people who can empathize, who are there to listen as I vent, and who can offer creative solutions to my problems. The support I receive from living in this community far surpasses the stress it creates. It’s not an intentional community without a little tension – and the tension is what makes it so beautiful.