Sowing My Mild Oats: The Quaker House

Since 2012, I’ve lived with 55 other people.

A Quaker-based intentional community is not the first place you’d think of to find a Pagan but it has definitely been the right place for me. Unfortunately, there’s a four year limit to residency here and my time is up this summer.

Briefly, Beacon Hill Friends House is an intentional community based in Quaker values in the heart of Boston that goes back to the 1960s. Twenty-one adults of various ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and religions (or lack thereof) share a kitchen, dining room, living space, bathrooms, and in many cases, a bedroom.

Remember MTV’s “The Real World”? It would be almost like that if the people weren’t picked for their propensity for drama and attention but rather because they embrace a set of values. Quaker values such as simplicity, integrity, faith, community, and social responsibility.

We have a resident chef (who is paid staff) that cooks dinner for us five nights a week. Mostly vegetarian meals with a meat option about once a week. In exchange for affordable room and board, we’re responsible for keeping the House clean by doing chores, for setup and cleanup of dinner, meeting twice a month to make decisions and strengthen community, and a retreat and a workday twice a year.

There is a meeting room in our house full of pews where a Quaker meeting sits in silent worship every Sunday morning. Part of our chore work is to make sure the House is clean for this Meeting.

It’s not something I had ever planned to do with my life but it’s probably the best decision I have ever made. After my life-changing surgery in 2012, I wanted to do something different with my life.

Given my mystic tendencies, I strongly considered being a Catholic monk but didn’t have the faith. While I did crave community and a life of prayer and devotion, I’m a Pagan at heart. Instead, I found the Friends House.

What I treasure most about the Friends House is how it’s brought me into regular contact with people that I normally would never have met. Sometimes this is challenging; often it is rewarding.

I’ve made some deep connections here with some really wonderful people. People I could learn from and, sometimes, people I can teach.

This life isn’t for everyone. It’s against the nature of our individualist society to hold things in common. We are programmed at an early age to want our own car, house, life, not share a bathroom with 4 other unrelated people.

But it’s the little moments that makes this life so special. The late night laughter around the kitchen table, for example. The weird dinner conversations. Movie or TV nights (especially Game of Thrones!). The sing-along we had when Pete Seeger died. Ukrainian Easter Egg painting with Carol. The day of lockdown shortly after the Marathon Bombing when we could not leave the House. Late nights when I cooked sourdough bread for the House or when Annie baked cupcakes. Various cold nights when we had the fireplace roaring and made s’mores.

It’s all something that I’m going to miss deeply.

~ by sacredblasphemies on 04/27/2016.

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