Maybe All We Really Need Is Love

Katie Thompson, Johnson Intern Program

ne recent Wednesday morning I received an email from Susan with the subject line: write? She requested that I contribute to this year-end booklet, expressing, “…the idea is to write about what you have taken from your year here into your life outside the program.”

I systematically considered aspects from the Johnson Intern Program in which I am still involved. Just one week prior, on the third Wednesday of the month, I had gathered as a member of the JIP Board to consider the sustainability and organic growth of the program. Just minutes later, I would start my car and drive to the Habitat for Humanity of Orange County office, where I serve as the Development Coordinator, a position offered to me after my internship at Habitat last year. Just one day later, I would reunite with Abigail Lee (‘07-08 JIP) after not seeing her in almost two weeks (a week is a long while in JIP time!)

It struck me – I don’t have a life outside the program! My recent life has evolved so wholly out of my experiences as an intern living in intentional community that I struggle to find a piece of myself or my life left untouched. The word that comes to mind when I reflect back on my time in the JIP that has carried me forward is simple and pure: love.

I should clarify that love in our intentional community was not defined by a plainly easy, happy tenure. We understood suffering both individually and as a community, allowing challenges at our Partner Organizations and in the house to incite pain and expose weaknesses. My community challenged my safe, measured rhythm of life, inspired my faith journey, and reminded me that we are one body in Christ. We engaged in heated discussions on faith, relationships, communal food, household responsibilities, and…the noise from community members returning home after 25¢ drafts on Franklin Street! But, when tensions cooled, only one thing remained: love rooted in God.

I am in awe of the seven devoted folks with whom I lived last year. Abigail, Daniel, Jesse, Karen, Kelly, Matt, and Matthew shared love through their life passions and daily activities. I witnessed yoga lessons, paintings on paper bags, music floating from guitars and a bass, meals consisting of 99% peanut butter, long walks and conversations, smiles, and…maybe most important of all, the willingness to sit and “be” with each other.

So what have I taken from my year in the JIP to my “life” outside the program? Abundant love. The compassion and grace have allowed me to open my heart to more fully recognize, receive, and share God’s love. This love motivates my hope when relationships are tough, my continued commitment to the JIP, and my service to low-income families through Habitat. I thank you all for nurturing me when I was an intern and while I have continued to grow in love.