I am now living with an intentional Christian Community called Church of the Sojourners in San Francisco, Ca. I came from Santa Barbara, Ca 1 month ago on Aug 14.
Life is different now. I play with little kids, talk with caring adults, and learn from the elderly. The difference is that I do these things all under the same roofs, in the same backyard, it's all within arms reach. And the living arrangements and schedule of live together demands that I will frequently have the opportunity to try and engage and get to know others. I have realized since being here that just being in this community does not guarantee that I will connect deeply with people and have a wonderful life. There are people here who struggle with depression or addiction or who withdraw from community, just like anywhere else. The difference between my surroundings here at Sojourners and my surroundings back in Santa Barbara is that here it is a heck of a lot easier to connect with people and seek support. Let me explain
It's easier to connect with others here at Sojourners because of a combination of physical proximity and a culture of family like I have not experienced before. And because we are so physically near each other, and because there are 5 shared meals a week, 5 shared morning prayer times, a teaching time, and a worship time on Sunday, we see each other living out the culture of family and being open to each other. On Sundays there is a time of "open mic" affirmations, when everyone is encouraged to speak about how they see God at work in someone else in the community. I have found this time of affirmation from individual to individual while the group listens to be profound, because it helps us as a group have eyes to see God at work in each other in the daily grind. And then with eyes of greater understanding and empathy we go live the daily grind with each other, sharing space.
This is a beauty I have seen so far. Not that I have not struggled with some loneliness, anger at self, compulsive eating, emotional flat-lining, withdrawing from community, or spiritual distance from God, because I have some struggled with all of these since coming. But I am finding it easier to bounce back and more tangibly evident that there are people who care walking with me, because they are literally with me both in physical location and verbal affirmation and concern. My room is a 12' x 12', rather small, and that's were I keep my personal belongings. But I also have a key to all 9 flats of the community and permission to not only use space and many group resources, but also to connect with others assuming their welcome.
Again this is not a solution to my problems.... but it seems to make solving them a heck of lot easier.
I would say the same for church.... as I see it so far (with my limited experience here) that this way of doing church is not THE SOLUTION, but it makes doing "church" and community heck of a lot easier.
For more details on church of the sojourners read my previous post and/or go to http://churchofthesojourners.wordpress.com/