The Daily Grace of Give and Take

The final column of a six-year run gives the author permission to write in the first person, wouldn't you say? So as we bring "Life in Community" to a close, allow me to offer personal thoughts on the major inspiration for these lines over the past half-decade—my own Assisi Community.

The inimitable Ed Spivey Jr. once wrote in "H'rumphs" that I actually live as a recluse in Newark, venturing forth occasionally to buy People magazine as source material for this column. The reality of my life in the Assisi Community is much more fun—as well as real, varied, faith-filled, changeable, and always challenging.

We've lived all our 12 years in a gritty neighborhood of inner-city Washington, D.C., minorities in a predominantly African-American area. We chose the location purposely, not because of some messianic illusion, but to share the city's uncertainties, fears, and noise, as well as the neighborliness, occasional heroism, and respect that most people here exhibit.

The numbers in our community have fluctuated over the years, as have our demographics. When we reached 23 members inhabiting our two row houses awhile back, we knew that communal physical and psychic limits had been surpassed. We've always accepted the inevitability of younger members' moving on after a couple of years, and the older ones staying. That way change and vitality have combined with stability and serenity among us. The formula has worked well.

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Sojourners Magazine March-April 1999
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