From the Psalm appointed for Evening Prayer tonight:
“Our days are like the grass. *
We flourish like the flower of the field.
When the wind goes over it, it is gone *
and its place shall know it no more”
-Psalm 103: 15-16 (The Saint Helena Psalter)
There is something very timeless about Saint Hilda’s House. Saint Hilda’s House is an intentional living community of young adults who are taking a year out of their careers and callings to serve Christ in the many ways in which he is found in the city of New Haven.
Saint Hilda’s House is doing something different–and there’s something important about the act of doing, not just believing or thinking in advocating. The eight women and men who join me in occupying the old rectory attached to Christ Church are living into an ancient monastic tradition. We don’t take vows, but we do live intentionally and in community. More than anything, the intentionality of the community unites us to that ancient practice of stepping out of the world and into the cloister; calls us to serve those in need; asks us to live simply and to pool our resources together; demands that we sacrifice our pride in order to be a good brother or a good sister to one another; draws us into work that promotes not the self, but rather the common good.
Though I’ve been here for a little over one week, I’m finding that this pseudo-monastic thing is difficult. I want time to myself. I want to cook the meals I enjoy. I want to go to bed when I want to go to bed, wake up when I want to wake up. I want to call Kayla or my dad or my grandma. I want to have my own room, my own bathroom. The other members of my community also want these things.
All of those things, however, are wants and not needs. I have everything I need. I have shelter, I have a budget, I have transportation, I have clothing, I have friends, I have love, I have family. I can still be happy and hale while sharing the bathroom and taking a turn at cleaning up other people’s messes. And that, I think, is how community works. I have all that I need and work so that others can enjoy the same blessing. Excess–whether monetary or material–suggests that somebody else is lacking. By living simply and by serving one another, we aim to build up those who have been made lowly (and, by converse, to tear down those who have been made high–but that’s another blog post.)
Things are going well here. Thanks be to God–and to Sam, Will, Heidi, Rachael, Andy, Josh, John, and Beau for joining together to do and be something new for the world, and yet still ancient and ever eternal. Amen.
In the God of Saint Hilda,