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Life Together…As Bonhoeffer  Intended.

Life Together…As Bonhoeffer Intended.

What a crazy week. 

If you would have told me a year ago, I mean honestly even a week ago, that I would someday choose NPR over music and the CDC over Instagram, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are. While there isn’t much lemonade to be made from the lemon that is COVID-19, I have seen God in little graces that sweeten this bitter cup just enough to drink from. So this blog post is like my lemonade stand, and for the low low cost of nothing you’re welcome to come and partake in the still-rather-sour result of day 5 of quarantine.

If you spend any significant time on the internet, you’ve likely seen memes or tweets communicating how difficult this whole ‘social distancing’ thing is for extroverts:

As an extrovert, I can confirm they are totally, absolutely, unequivocally, 212%, true. Not venturing into the world and seeing my co-workers, randos at the gym or even just other cars on the highway has been driving me a little bonkers. Today though, I realized over my shared lunch hour with the 5 other fellows working remotely, how incredibly blessed I am to already be integrated into a community during a time of self-isolation. With so many of us working from home, we’re in good company when the cabin fever hits. We’ve instituted ‘abs on the hour’, normalized screaming into pillows, and often send each other funny pictures to brighten our spirits. 

 While I am not in my physical office with my coworkers, which is a bummer, I have had this incredible opportunity to spend the entire day with almost all of my housemates (sorry Sam and Carson).  Our year started by reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, and our new joke is that whatever we do now is “as Bonhoeffer intended.” While this is funny when applied to out-of-tune karaoke or stress-shopping for hand sanitizer, I think the heart of it is true. We’re experiencing some of the most intense community we ever will, and by the grace of God we get to enjoy it together. We share coffee, daily joys, funny emails from coworkers, lunch, frustration over projects, suddenly-always-corona-related anxieties, supper, laughs, workout routines, movie nights, dessert and everything in between–say it with me– ‘as Bonhoeffer intended’. Not only does this make me watch the clock and latest headlines a little less, it has created moments of genuine joy and connection that I will treasure forever. 

When President Trump announced the federal recommendation not to gather in groups of 10 or more, we joked that the Fellows were in trouble. While it’s true the Fellows schedule looks different now, the time set aside in our week for Fellows Activities is still leveraged for intentional gathering, which I’m just beginning to grasp the true importance of.

Sunday, instead of meeting in a church sanctuary, we squeezed onto couches in the girls’ house. Tuesday night, rather than crowding around a lovely church family’s table for our weekly Round Table Dinner, we relocated to the girls’ dining room. Friday we’ll convene, not in our classroom, but on Google Hangouts. In true Hebrew 10:25 fashion, we haven’t given up the practice of meeting together as we squish to fit on the couches, huddle around the dining room table, and wave to our fearless leaders via webcam. These moments of sharing blankets, meals, prayers, and space hold a familiar comfort in this uncertain time, and make me value this season of fellowship all the more.

Showing love to others by not being around them is so hard, but being integrated into a community, this community, has lessened the strain on me at least a little. For those as extroverted as I, but lacking in 10 program-mates within one property, in these trying times of social distancing: use your phone, and I don’t mean for Netflix or insta or facebook. 

  • Text someone else affected by this abrupt change of plans every day.** 
  • Share a meal with a friend quarantined in solitude via skype or facetime. 
  • Use a platform like RightNow Media or Spotify and organize a digital community to grow spiritually. Create group chats or calls to discuss your discoveries and grow in faith together. 
  • Invite a friend or two over for a ‘house church’ livestream and brunch on Sunday mornings.

Yesterday, a single work conference call summed up my week of discoveries nicely. Someone noted that “quarantine is at odds with community” and another agreed he’s found himself “hungering for a thing that seems so normal and casual” like gathering with his church and small group. While I know this is true, and I long to be with the larger body of the church again, I’ve found my longing eased by the community I’ve been gifted by the fellows. I think my boss put it up best with his hope-filled observation that this who-knows-how-many-weeks is an opportunity to experience God in a new way. 

May you find him, wherever you’re quarantined, whoever you are (or are not) near, and whatever you find yourself doing. 

God bless,

Bethany

**I could literally write a whole nother post about the ways this practice has helped me put my minor life disruption in perspective while reconnecting with good friends from the past, but that’s another glass of lemonade for another day

Bethany Van Eps is a 2019-20 KC Fellow from East Grand Forks, MN. She works at Made To Flourish and graduated from Dordt University with a degree in Business Administration.

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