13. Koinonia and beyond

We moved to Koinonia Community full of expectations and enthusiasm for the summer internship in intentional community. The idea was to learn about the ideas of intentional community in the discussion groups and at the same time to experience it first-hand by working in the farming and other community industries there.

It was really wonderful being there. It’s really a miracle of sorts that Konionia is there. Founded in the 1940’s by an iconoclastic Southern Baptist preacher – Clarence Jordan – in the rural area near Plains, Ga., the community has had both black and white residents and gave shelter to war resisters during WWII. The locals didn’t understand, and harassed and attacked the residents several times, but they survived. Habitat for Humanity, which gained fame with the high-profile involvement of Jimmy Carter, is a spin-off of Koinonia.

We loved the people, the land, the work and the discussion group. We seriously considered becoming residents. One day near the end of the work-study, I asked the leaders: exactly what would you require, in terms of Christian commitment, from someone who’s interested in becoming a resident?

The answer, after only a moment of consideration, was simple. One would need to affirm to the group, “Jesus is Lord.”

I certainly could respect that, but I could not affirm it. So we made plans to leave at the end of our internship… but then things got complicated, as seems they often have in my life. Some of the problems – mostly stupid things that I did – that had been creating dissonance in my relationship with my wife – my first wife, to be clear – surfaced again, and we realized that moving to a new locus was not really going to fix everything.

After a lot of intense talk and emotional stress, we separated. Connie went to visit her sister in Oregon, and after a few weeks of work with Habitat, I went home to my parents.

Through all of this, I never once thought to turn to meditation, though I did a bit of yoga occasionally. Looking back on all this now, it seems hard to believe that in spite of knowing something of the value of meditation, something of the depth of the Buddha’s teachings, I went along in such ignorance and despair, thinking I was making progress.

I suppose I just hadn’t suffered enough yet.

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