I was the first intern of Cycle 34 to arrive at the Sojourners intern house in Washington, D.C., in August. An incredibly generous staff member picked me up from the airport, drove me the hour back to the house, and left me to settle into my new home (later I learned that this type of generosity was just a part of the job at Sojourners, but that is another story altogether).
Alone in a new city and a new house, I was terrified that I had made the wrong decision, and skeptical that any place could live up to the community that I had been able to create over the past four years in a different city, one that had quickly become a “forever” kind of home. However, the second thought out of my new roommate’s mouth was the statement that she felt God’s presence in our room. From that moment, I was reassured that our space would be sacred, and that the people who I would share this year with were invested in this intentionality just as much as I was.
I quickly learned that my housemates and I vary greatly in our faith backgrounds and practices; from Catholic to Quaker we cover the Christian spectrum. We pray differently, view God differently, and love differently. We come from as far away as California, and as near as Virginia. But one thing is consistent: By showing up at Sojourners, we have each acknowledged that living for God includes a powerful intentionality in seeking to truly know others, as well as allowing ourselves to be fully known. Although we each had unique reasons for signing up for this program, we all recognize that the call to consistently live in the service of others extends to both our living space and our work.
Living and working with the same nine people seems daunting, tiring, even unnecessary. As one of my fellow interns so kindly put it: “You all are like the brothers and sisters that I never wanted.” But, despite the challenges, it allows us to dive deeply into each other’s lives in entirely unexpected and otherwise impossible ways. We ask about each person’s day and how their family is, but we also ask about their relationship with God, if they feel fulfilled in their greater purpose, and what they think we are being called to do as a community.
Every day we see the hardships and the joys of communal living, yet slowly and surely bond together toward a common vision for life, and a mutual interest in serving God and each other. We are all sojourning together, learning what we need in our spiritual lives, growing in our understanding of community, and developing professionally. In our little home in D.C. we make communal meals, we take turns cleaning the toilet, and we play camp games in the living room. Here we share every aspect of life with one another, and our individual happiness is bound up with the happiness of our community.
My desk partner and I have pictures of our adventures up around our office space, a gesture which some of our coworkers have called “a little much.” But what was first a shameless attempt to cement a new friendship has now become a reminder of exactly why we signed up for this year — to invest our whole souls into the important task of living intentionally for our God. Together, we are making meaningful friendships, doing meaningful work, and becoming closer to the God that gives us meaning.
Every year Sojourners welcomes a new cycle of interns, but the call is the same — live intentionally, for and with each other and our God. Sojourners is now accepting applications for our next year of interns, which will begin in August 2018. The deadline to apply is Feb. 15 2018.