During the past school year, as our family expanded and we entered the adventure of parenthood, we learned the importance of community in a whole new way. Some of our best friends, who also happened to be in the early stages of parenthood, moved back to other parts of the country, leaving us somewhat isolated.
Back in the early spring we started working towards creating a new sense of community, particularly with others who share the burden of life in campus ministry and parenthood. Compadres who understand the unique rhythms and challenges of our lifestyle.
The journey towards proximity with each other took us for a wild ride. We tried to help our friends move into our East Boston neighborhood. We thought about a huge house together in Allston or Brighton. Eventually we settled on Roslindale.
Apartments were secured, checks written, arrangements made and two of our three units made the move, but we were still uncertain. Or, I should say: roadblocked. Places fell through, rejection emails were received, the situation looked bleak. Grace and good fortune allowed us to stay in our place until we actually did find something.
We recruited help, rented a truck, and packed up. The day before the move our new landlord’s called and asked if we could push back the move date in order for them to finish one last project: retiling the kitchen.
No, we said, everything’s set to go and our current landlord’s expect us to be out tomorrow. The tile guys ended up canceling and the move went off unhindered.
But, I should have known something was up.
We’ve now been here for three weeks and the kitchen floor is maybe twenty percent finished.
Yesterday was the straw that broke my spirit’s back. For most of this project a couple of low-totem-pole guys have showed up at our house around noonish (despite promising to be here hours earlier) worked until three and then called it a day. I’m no expert on tile flooring, but I could tell that the work being done was the opposite of high quality.
So, yesterday, the boss shows up, takes one look at the shoddy workmanship and tears the whole thing up. Back to square one.
Meanwhile, our lives have been placed on hold. Ninety percent of our kitchen is still in boxes. Marina has yet to freely play in the living room (I’m certain she’d be walking by now if not confined to her room all the time). The downstairs portion of our home is consistently covered in a not-so-fine layer of dust.
The oh-so-slim silver lining to all of this is that we live in community and proximity to people who love us and care about us. I have no idea what we would do without their help.
This situation has also given me a new, experiential, understanding of the word nonsense. Literally, nothing about the whole process: moving out, moving in, getting settled, has made one bit of sense.
I like to tell stories in this space of things that I have learned, illumination gleaned from the ridiculous and difficult moments of life.
I share this story, not because it is the biggest challenge we have ever faced, but because I have no idea what is being illuminated here. It just feels like nonsense.
I know there are people going through much more difficult times right now. But in life we all run into nonsense at some point, and too often we want to quickly move the nonsense into the category of sense.
Sorry, guys, not there yet.
What I can say is this: few things rob me of joy faster than nonsensical situations like this tile floor. Sometimes you have to fight for joy.
My encouragement, especially if you are stuck in nonsense, is to do just that: fight for joy.