By Bren Dubay
Interns arrived last weekend. The Gospel reading at Gathered Worship was from Luke — the Sermon on the Plain. It seemed a perfect reading for the start of a new internship term. I told the interns that they had come to a remarkable place. And Koinonia is. But it is not Utopia and I stressed that they would not see perfection — everyone loving enemies all the time, everyone doing good for, blessing, praying for enemies all the time, everyone doing unto others as we would have them do unto us all the time. In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus instructs that we do these things. We fail. Sometimes we fail spectacularly. But what I told the new interns and the rest gathered there is what they would see is a real effort, a sincere effort, a very intentional effort to live the Sermon on Plain and the Sermon on the Mount day in and day out
What do we do at Koinonia? We can easily answer that with a “I take care of the pecans,” “I cook,” “I correspond with prisoners,” “I manage guest reservations,” “I visit the sick,” “I clean,” “I make sure the vehicles have oil,” “I work with people who suffer from chronic pain,” “I grow vegetables, grapes, blueberries,” “I facilitate the Circle of Friends,” “I write,” “I keep the bakery going,” and on and on. But really, truly, a more accurate answer to the question would be, “We fall down, we get up, and we fall down again.”
Those of us here have either committed ourselves to a way of life or to coming every day to support those attempting to live this way of life. Those of us who have committed to the communal way of life take vows agreeing that we will be guided by Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and Sermon the Plain; we have committed ourselves to being family. We have committed ourselves to a particular place. We have committed to go to God together. We devote ourselves to spiritual development and good works. What’s more, these deep and specific commitments are for the long haul. In essence, we promise each other and ourselves that we will not run away—even when it gets rough. And rough it gets. And, oh, yes, we do tasks, chores, and work to support ourselves.
Interns, for a period of time, immerse themselves into the communal way of life we follow here. We hope they take what they learn and experience into whatever configuration of community they choose. We try to show them a set of guiding principles that are constructive, healthy, and sensible. A good life, a mature, wholehearted life, takes commitment.
In the Rule of Benedict, Benedict writes, “anticipate one another in honor; most patiently endure one another’s infirmities, whether of body or character.” This is sound advice for interns, for members of Koinonia, or for anyone. Community is about bearing each other’s burdens, staying when things get hard, doing the chores you don’t like, and being family. For our community, above all, we try and fail and try again to live up to this Sermon on the Plain
One of the best ways to learn about community and to see the imperfect and beautiful ways it works out is by becoming an intern at Koinonia. We have room for more interns. There are three terms a year — spring, summer and fall. Give it some thought and then apply?