Reflection on Community and the Julian Year
Written by Elizabeth Powers
Julian Year corps member
Chicago’s Episcopal Service Corps branch, called the Julian Year after Julian of Norwich, the patron saint of introverts. As an introvert myself, I was more than a little wary of flinging myself into the biggest city I have ever lived in, into a house where I knew no one, with the intention of discerning whether I want to pursue a career in education. To be a member of an intentional community requires that you be vulnerable, because after all, you are walking into a houseful of strangers. I experienced this vulnerability in a very practical sense starting my very first day in Chicago, as I waited in an empty house for my lost luggage and my as-yet-unknown housemates to arrive. In the months since that anxious August morning, I have tried to embrace uncertainty and maintain the confidence that I am bringing enough of myself to this community that everything will turn out okay.
Some days it is hard to believe that. I work far from our Rogers Park house, and I get home after everyone else has already been home for quite some time. That can feel isolating, and for the first month or so I worried that I wasn’t doing enough to engage with the community during the limited time I was at home. I do my best to shake off the vulnerability that comes from feeling disconnected, shake myself free of my introverted tendencies, go knock on a housemate’s door, and invite them downstairs to cook quesadillas and play medieval strategy games.
Brene Brown says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity.” The way that I have felt most connected to the community we are building here in Rogers Park has been through the open mics I’ve been so far successfully hosting every month in our third-story loft. Bringing
people together to share the different ways we reach around inside ourselves and put what we find on display in poetry, music, and raps about Jesus has made me feel much closer to my fellow Julians. I hope to continue this pattern of risk and openness, because these people make me laugh and cry and will give me quiet time to write on my good and bad days.
I will end with a haiku about snow and community:
Snow muffles footsteps,
leaning on community
all sleepy morning.