A dear mentor explained a concept of ‘community’ that she read in a book by a wise man, and I cannot get past it: coal. It goes like this: Many people would assume that in order to heat a house with hot coals, the best method would be to place one coal under each room. But, this would be completely ineffective, for a coal by itself has no power to heat an entire room. Rather, if one were to place a whole pile of hot coals under the center of the house, the house would feel its warmth into the depths of every room. So, why do we as humans, friends, servants, workers… why do we try to meet the needs of the world by ourselves? We are being ineffective. When we join together, as a heaping pile of warmth (if you will), we have much more power to take on the threat of the cold, the burdens, the needs of the ones we love.
So, let me tell you about the service house, where I am spending my year. A house that feels the truest warmth of these “hot coals” in every nook and cranny. It’s a little, old gray building owned by Belmont University, with a concept inspired by Mission Year. In place of spending hours and hours working to make ends meet, the six girls that live in the service house spend simply ten hours a week out in the community, serving, in place of rent. If money were no object, why would you waste time bussing tables or restocking shelves when you could be developing meaningful connections with the ones who keep the city’s community thriving. Making a difference. In addition to the service internships we each take part in every week, we make it a point to spend time together. We will be going through several books together this year, with said mentor, and we take turns pairing off and making the rest of the house breakfast every Wednesday morning. And let me just say, we have NOT resorted to a quick roundup of cereal and toast.. these girls have gone ALL OUT to make this something special. (I will be posting a lot of the recipes under the “what we served” category!) But back to the point. The service house is not an excuse to have free housing (although that is definitely an added bonus), but rather an opportunity to have a year that counts. I am only a few months in and have already felt the love and support of these dear friends – having been able to get to know them, see their hearts, and share the chore of the daily dish pile up. But the thing I would like to express is that anyone can find this kind of community, whether they make it a point to spend a weekly meal with their household, or finding some organization in the city where they feel they belong. I hope through this blog you can be inspired to find the ones that give you the added warmth to heat the cold corners of your house. You don’t have to do it alone.
From Mission Year: “We practice living a life as Jesus lived it. We follow Christ’s command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.”