Community: A School of Love (And Hard Knocks)
By Blake Brouillette
What was I thinking? Seriously though, I graduated college in May and the first big life decision I make is to move to Denver to make no money and share a room with two other dudes.
At a time in life when most of my friends decide to live by themselves or downsize the amount of roommates they have, I move into a 10’ x 15’ room and sleep in a bunk bed.
Yes, you read that right. I am sleeping in a bunk bed after graduation. We have no closets in our room, and I have 5 drawers for all of my clothes with barely any space to hang clothes.
So what makes me continue to live this lifestyle? What about this claustrophobic daily living makes me completely forget the external circumstances? What allows me to get through the day with a smile on my face and joy in my heart? The answer is simple, community life.
At Christ in the City, homeless ministry is the end goal of our apostolate. The means of getting there is through community life. This “community life” is simple. It involves a group of college aged missionaries struggling to “die to ourselves” at every moment of every day.
Through this total self-sacrifice in our small daily moments, we are able to give the small gifts and love we have to the homeless we serve. As one of our patrons Mother Teresa says, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
All the strength, love, confidence, compassion, caring, mercy, and joy towards our homeless friends begins in the way we interact with our community.
Each act towards your community and the homeless may seem small and miniscule. Small things such as letting someone else have the last serving of food, handing out a small snack or water to someone in need of food, taking an extra five minutes to fold someone else’s clothes, and giving a pair of socks to someone in need on the streets all add up.
The small acts become something large. The only way to change the world is one small act and one small gesture at a time. It’s easy to forget that not all these acts happen at the same time. Whether it’s in our families or communities, each small act is important and adds up.
Community life is what we leave in the morning, and come back to at night. It is there when you have a good day or bad day. It involves challenging other community members, celebrating the highs and lows of life and confronting people when they need help with love as the motive of your words. It includes sharing stories form the streets, laughter and tears from life’s turns and twists, problems and struggles in life, and the joy of simply living as a child of God.
Community life is the source of our strength, the means to an end, and the place where we grow in faith and love right alongside each other. Sometimes this love is difficult.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Iron hitting against iron is abrupt, loud and jarring. So is community life.
In the end, it isn’t about who had the most space in their room, free time at night, or the most material things. It’s about whether or not you’re a saint and who you brought with you.
Blake Brouillette is a first-year missionary from Hastings, Nebraska