The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner

Community Part II

The loss of whole days to incapacitating back pain ultimately cost me my freelance design job (understandably so, the man who hired me was truly sorry but he needed his work done as badly as I needed to do it, but couldn’t). Suddenly my time was particularly freed up to focus on healing. In the coming days when medicine began to work and I was eventually mobile thanks to a cane and Dylan’s willing arms, it seemed that I couldn’t hobble ten feet without someone asking how I was, with genuine concern. I was being prayed for, checked on, reassured, empathized with, sympathized with, and reminded that I am not alone.

As weeks passed and the healing improved, I was able to attend church at Wilson Abbey with more frequency. Having been born and raised in the Presbyterian denomination (lovingly referred to as “The Frozen Chosen”), exuberant, modern displays of faith are well, foreign to me. The joy though, the music, the message, the presence of God in the space, these things were suddenly real for me in ways that had been quiet if not dormant, for years. It was here that I wanted to be.

“Would you ever consider living in a place like that?” was a question Dylan posed to me in the early days of our relationship, after explaining his upbringing and glimpses of a few rooms shared by his married friends. I don’t remember my exact reaction but I’m almost certain it involved something along the lines of, “no way”, followed by a list of reasons why not mostly having to do with the amount of things I’d accumulated in life up to that point and didn’t want to let go of, particularly kitchenware and an intense need for personal space. Suddenly though, a few months later and to my total shock, I was actually considering it. I prayed on it, fought it, reasoned with it, wrestled with it and at the end of the day, realized it was the only option and that God, in His infinite wisdom and love for me in a way that I particularly need (i.e., matching stubbornness with even greater stubbornness), picked me up by my scruff and planted me squarely in front of the most obvious thing: move in for good. It was true, I needed to move out of my friend’s home and my job had ended abruptly, I was injured and not operating at full capacity nor would I be for quite some time. The man I love lives a mere alley away, I am surrounded by people who actually seem to care about me in spite of barely knowing me. I quite literally could never have orchestrated the timing and circumstances any better than had already occurred. What was I waiting for? I closed my eyes, plugged my nose, packed up some stuff or gave away a lot of it, and jumped in.

The adjustment is sometimes difficult, I can’t lie about that. I’ve been in the house for about six months and in all honestly I do miss my space, every day. I miss my full-sized mattress. I miss quiet mornings and my things that are packed into boxes now housed under Dylan’s roof. Fortunately, I’ve been paired with a roommate who relishes quiet as solitude as much as I do. Community is loud and occasionally disruptive. It’s sometimes opinionated, nosey, can’t keep a secret to save its life, and all up in our business. But it checks on me, too. It wants to know how I’m doing and if my back is feeling better (mostly yes, thanks). For perhaps the first time in my adult life, people are aware of my comings and goings. If I was choking, help is just a few feet away pretty much all the time. Kids stick their heads in my open door to show me cool things or just want to hang out. What was once upon a time something of a threat or a curse has now turned into a comfort and hymn: I am not alone.

Penny Sokody
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