The Romance of Community Living

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A key part of the ASC experience is living in community.  The community is to become a family of sorts.  In our St. Louis community (which we affectionately refer to as DeSluhLa, in reference to our three schools: De Smet, SLUH, and Loyola Academy), we have six people with very different past experiences, interests, skills, senses of humor, activities of choice, worldviews, and lexicons.  Despite our differences, our community has found a way to come together and flourish as a community.  We did not choose to live together.  But our differences also make community living an adventure, and they are what makes living in our little family romantic. As Chesterton said, these random differences between us are “the sublime and special romance of the family. It is romantic because it is a toss-up. It is romantic because it is everything that its enemies call it. It is romantic because it is arbitrary. It is romantic because it is there. So long as you have groups of men chosen rationally, you have some special or sectarian atmosphere. It is when you have groups of men chosen irrationally that you have men. The element of adventure begins to exist; for an adventure is, by its nature, a thing that comes to us. It is a thing that chooses us, not a thing that we choose.”[1]  Now, we were not chosen irrationally, but the point remains—we are a group of people who would never have otherwise met.  We are a group of people who would not have freely chosen to hang out with each other; we are different people, and there is nothing wrong with that.  But in being “forced” to be together, we have discovered that we actually like being around each other. We cannot help but laugh at each others’ turn of phrase or passing remark that highlights a thought we would never think.  Every conversation winds unpredictably to an unknown destination, as we play each other, bringing what is our own into the discussion.

Community is romantic because it is an opportunity to love all of humanity.  It is easy to love those like you, but more difficult to love the Other.  As Chesterton points out of families—and thus about intentional communities — “Aunt Elizabeth is unreasonable, like mankind. Papa is excitable, like mankind. Our youngest brother is mischievous, like mankind. Grandpapa is stupid, like the world; he is old, like the world.”[2]  By loving those random people we live with, we love a more realistic slice of humanity than we do we live with people we choose. We are forced to confront the Other every day in each other.  But instead of leading to conflict, by some grace of God this has led to friendship and adventure.  The adventure of DeSluhLa has been, for our community, a source of comfort and joy for its members.

[1] Chesterton, G.K. 1905. Heretics.

[2] Chesterton, G.K. 1905. Heretics.

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