Community

I am home for a whole week of break. Yesterday afternoon I took a walk with my dad and it was sunny and balmy. This afternoon I took a walk with my mom and it was bitter and rainy. (No reflection on respective parents, I’m sure.) My plans for this week include seeing people I love, doing a very small amount of homework, applying for a couple more jobs, writing things which are not my novel, and reading about Christianity and fiction. Also a lot of sleep.

This is a funny place to be, in my last semester. I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of the world, and that in May I’ll fall into it head-long for the first time, but of course that is silly. I’ve been in the world all along. I was born into it.

I am frightened about next year’s changes, though. I am not worried about a job or a home or a car (though I’m sure I ought to be sometimes.) Instead, I am rather predictably worried about being lonely. I am terrified to step out of the tight knit little college atmosphere, well-insulated with people who love me deep and well, into a looser sort of place where, though I will have support, there will not always be a hand to hold within arm’s length, or a smiling face directly when I look over my shoulder.

In college, I have gratefully stumbled into friendships with interesting, valuable, layered people. I’ve become an aficionado of the one-on-one friendship, of the tea date, of laughter and the well-placed, comfortable bit of sass. I have collected friends who don’t mind my camping out on their couches when they’re not home, who remember my aunts and cousins though they’ve never met them, who dutifully read this little blog.

I love these people dearly and I intend to absolutely hold onto them for quite a long time, but I am realizing more and more that what I will need when I graduate (and what I have perhaps missed, sometimes rather keenly, throughout college) is community. A common group with common loves.

Dr. Messer asked me the other day if I had any friends or peers who were as invested in writing as I was—people I could really get into it with. I don’t and I never really have. It is also true that, though it takes more courage than I would like to admit to say so, I still find it much easier to write about my God than to talk about Him with friends. It is not that they don’t love Him too, but that we’ve been shy to build our friendships on Him, shy to say His name.

I am indeed shy to write this because I am not ready to step away from the people I consider to be my best friends. I do not intend to ever be ready. I will always love them as I do now, except someday hopefully a little better. I am, however, longing for this community of which I still maintain only the vaguest idea.

I sent out the second draft of my novel to quite a few people last week, and that has, unexpectedly, (though why I wouldn’t expect it, I have no idea) been quite a start. For the first time all these people have the opportunity to read the pages onto which I’ve strained my pale little soul for the last two semesters. It makes me wonder how it would be to sit down and wholesale read the draft of someone else’s novel, someone else’s carefully strung words. How it would be to sit down and say, what do you think a Christian novel might be in the twenty-first century? Do you think it can exist? Do you think you or I might write one? Perhaps we ought to pray and then begin.

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