Blackburn House Covenant 2015-2016
“We, the Blackburn House of 2015-16, are committed to unity and edification, sustainability, honesty, mutual care and giving, and the practices of silence and not taking ourselves so seriously. The structures which will enable us to aspire to this covenant are:
– Morning Prayer begins at 7:30 am Mon-Thurs which includes coming into silence, Lectio Divina followed by an extended period of silence in which one can pray silently or out loud, The Lord’s Prayer and a hymn. The leader chooses the text for the prayer and may also choose
another creative format of their own. We honor silence a full five minutes after prayer.
– Every morning, including days without morning prayer, we honor silence until 8 am.
– Optional 5 pm meditation in the chapel every day.
– Evening Prayer at 8 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday includes silent prayer together contemplating the prayer list with verbal intercessions if one is so moved.
– Meals include growing (when possible), preparing, and eating food together at least 4x a week (Mon, Wed, Thurs dinner and Sunday lunch). Monday and Thursday are simple meals (rice & beans, pasta) unless one is so moved to cook something special. Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon are community hospitality meals.
– Meal prayer includes a moment of silence in gratitude, followed by a short prayer led by the cook.
– Monday meal is shared in silence.
– Those who did not cook clean up after meals.
– No delegated weekly chores, daily chores are done on a volunteer basis.
– House Cleaning will be held on the first Saturday of every month around 1 pm.
– Community “check-in” happens every Sunday at 4 pm including Minimalist Monday Mutual Mission and CAR.
– Wednesday and Sunday meals are concluded with expressions of gratitude.
– We share most groceries, creating a list every week and dividing the bill by 3.”
It seems as we begin so many projects, we have barely had time to focus on what has drawn us all to Blackburn House in the first place. This covenant was founded between Ingrid, Susan, and I. It was what will define us for our remaining year at Blackburn House. The act of being intentional with a group of people is never an easy feat. To you, these rules might seem arbitrary or unimportant, but it is important to us. It is important to us, because we deliberated over them together.
I have never lived in an intentional community. I lived with other people, but we never hashed out rules or made a statement of purpose. This process has felt strange and foreign to me. I feel like I’ve made a commitment to something precious. We call it a covenant, a sacred promise we have made with God. We keep that promise by carrying it out with the people we live with. It feels holy. It is holy.
And yet, we laughed the entire time we were creating this. We joked about adding silly rules such as, “We must include black beans in every meal we cook in some way.” There wasn’t a time that it felt holy or spiritual of how we normally treat something called a “Covenant.” Ingrid kept telling us, “Come on, guys. We have to focus.” This document seems very lofty, but it’s not in many ways. The mundane nature of buying groceries together or eating together are actions families do every day. It’s nothing special. It is only special because we have decided together to do this, to shoot for ideals that may never be perfected, and that we are able to create something important out of it. It is something that crosses both the mundane and the spiritual. We are living together and committing ourselves to these rules because we are saying, “We matter to each other,” and this is how we show it. We are searching for God in our daily living, together.
As we continue these practices, it makes me want to search deeper for neighbors. I have the neighbors who I live with and the neighbors who I live next to. People in my community who I want to live intentionally for. I believe that’s why the Todd Listening Project is important. I want to know the people in my community, so that I can support them as Ingrid and Susan support me. I find glimpses of God through other people. I see God in Ingrid. I see God in Susan. I see God in Todd, and I want to see more.