nothing can save us that is possible

I've only given hints over the past several months about what is going on here, because it's been difficult to write about. Many people close to us have had to deal with so much grieving. And our experience has been so different from theirs. But it's been one of those important waypoints in my life, and I really want to get something in my journal about it. So...

We had been living here for almost ten years, with a communal group of Christians, when they decided to dissolve their group and give the land away. It was not a complete surprise, as the group had been struggling for years. But it didn't leave us with many options. We had no steady income, no car, and a three-year-old. Actually, coming to live here had seemed like our best chance for a more stable life, and now it was falling apart around us.

It had felt like a miracle when we were invited to come. We had pretty strong convictions about following Jesus' example of voluntary poverty, giving our work for free, and living on the gifts of others. And also not wielding power over others, rejecting force or group pressure so others were free to act in love. Or not, if they chose. But we understood that's not how this community (or any human organization?) was run. Maybe if the group had been stronger at the time, we wouldn't have been accepted. But we seemed young and eager to start a retreat ministry for the poor, and at the time they were eager for new energy. So we were welcomed warmly. It seemed like God had opened a way forward for us.

And it had been good, though often difficult. We were able to start offering retreats, mostly to people from Chicago, and those were rich and inspiring. There were lots of opportunities for learning and helping our neighbors. And many of the ways we could help inspired others to help us, so our needs were met for years, and we felt secure enough to have a child. Yet we never fully "fit in." We wouldn't become official members, or take part in the hard economic or political decisions that most every organization feels are necessary. As the community got stronger over the years, we sometimes heard murmurs about us, and wondered how long we would be allowed to stay. Maybe it was a miracle that we lasted so long. I was grateful for the many good years, but I was also frustrated and confused about how marginalized we (and our beliefs) remained, with no signs of change on the horizon.

Then came the collapse. Several deaths of elderly members, unexpected departures of the newest younger members, and the closing of the main farm business, all within a few months, left everyone crushed. After years and years of struggling things had been starting to look better, then this. Within a few months, a meeting was held to consider proposals from new potential owners.

(Continued tomorrow...)