Life Together

Re-enacting the Jonestown Massacre
Last week, my family and I spent seven days with seven young adults from our church doing a program called Subversive Life. I stole the idea from a pastor friend who did something similar. During the day, people either went to work or helped out with a week-long youth program. In the evenings, we cooked together and then had some kind of activity. 

We stayed at my parents' house while they were of town and we had a blast. We cooked together, had group devotional times, went contra dancing, attended an open mic together (along with a spontaneous jam session outside afterwards), solicited prayer requests from people at Oakridge Mall, volunteered at Cityteam, hosted a Board Game Night at church, attended an art showcase, played lots of Just Dance 4 and hung out together in community. 

It was an awesome yet exhausting time. 

One goal of Subversive Life was to subvert individualism. So much of my life is spent on my own, doing things for my own individual gratification, and thinking about my own plans.  I'm also accustomed to exercising significant control over how I spend time with people. When you live with a group of people, you don't have that luxury. As the week wore on, I got frustrated over small things like the way my house mates would load the dishwasher, the slowness of meal preparation (two guys cut themselves slicing vegetables), and the sound of arrows puncturing cardboard (one of my friends, a former collegiate archer, practiced in the backyard).

One of my favorite moments was an ordinary task that when done alone is unremarkable and tedious. And yet when done together is gloriously inefficient, raucous, and unexpectedly enjoyable. 

We went grocery shopping at Safeway. It was my three youngest kids and the four guys in the house. Eight people is way too many for a mundane endeavor like this. Abby and Elliot grabbed the shopping cart with the fake car in front. It's huge. We blocked the entire aisle. We were loud and obnoxious. We bought an obscene amount of ground beef. And we spent 10 minutes negotiating milk - brand, price, quantity, fat content, and organic or not. Micah ended up making the final call.

The Voltron 6000
My friend pushing the cart was in charge of safety - "Please keep hands and feet inside the cart at all times". It was fun to watch the guys try to control my kids as they tried to sneak fruit roll-ups, chocolate candy, and other sorts of junk food into the cart, climb on top of the fake car, or demand that we crash into something. The guys don't know my kids well enough to order them around and it's hard to be both firm and gentle. I enjoyed the spectacle of their fruitless pleas for Abby and Elliot to behave. It's nice to watch someone else struggle someone else struggle to deal with them.

This errand took far longer than it should have. We scared off some shoppers. It was a circus but the best possible kind. In life together, the journey itself is the most sacred delight.

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