The Simple Way house.
She'd written ahead of time, asking if she could come spend a week with their community, as part of a cultural immersion for a grad school course. A guy had written back, brief and kind, providing an email address to communicate with him. This was far from her comfort zone, asking complete strangers if she could impose upon them, as if testing the hospitality she'd read about in wonder in their book. The community apparently discussed it and decided she could come, but when she showed up on their doorstep, it was clear they understood only for one night. She pushed down the initial panic that rose, reminding herself this was, in fact, an adventure, and they would not turn her out to the streets. They ended up graciously inviting her to stay for the week, in the room of one of the house mates.
Her and her new friend and 'roommate' hiked around the city on foot and bicycle. She climbed in the community van with the six other housemates and went dumpster diving for groceries. She met beautiful people on the street where they lived and beautiful people in communities like theirs all throughout the city and across the border in Camden, New Jersey where she experienced her first Mass in a neighborhood of drug dealing and prostitution. She sat in quiet attention, listening to conversations about politics and social issues between some of the most 'liberal' Christians she'd met, and she relished the discomfort, the way it rattled and shook her sense of 'right'. She could feel God outgrowing the skin she'd put him in in her attempt to understand his ways. And he was so much bigger than she thought.
When she left Philly and flew back to Seattle, she knew she couldn't go back to the way she was. One week and she was not as she left herself. She didn't know where she fit any more.
Five years later, she married a Catholic man.
And now, she holds in her hands a thin book of Common Prayer, a liturgy for ordinary radicals, written by the same guy who started the community in the row house, on that street in south Philly, where she spent the week that rattled her insides.
She basks tonight in wonder, the way she hungers for liturgy that she didn't grow up with, the story and community she didn't know she was part of. And she kneels to pray with candles lit, the evening prayer with her husband, beginning,
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked will I return. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Linking up with Heather for another installment of Just Write.