Monday, February 2, 2009

Introducing the Restoration Project

For almost exactly 9 months, 7 of us have met weekly to discuss how we might integrate our faith into everyday life and how we might be freed up to love and serve the world more.

As we sang together, shared a meal almost every Friday, and dreamed, it became clear that we wanted to live closer together. We imagined the abundance we might feel if we took turns preparing meals. If there were more eyes and hands to watch over and play with little ones. What if we could check in with one another over coffee at breakfast instead of spending an hour going through our calendars to find an evening next month. (this happened to us once, no joke.) What if we could work together to use permaculture techniques to transform the yards into almost year round edible beauty. And how great might it be to have others to pray/meditate with daily.

From bottom, center, and clockwise:
Maryada, Lilly, Gretchen, Ben, Kate, Carol, Patricia (not pictured is Emrys.)

After a retreat in the fall, lots of visioning, and sitting in silence, we knew that our next step meant finding a house where we could all live, or at least live nearby one another. Last week way opened. If all goes well, we will be moving into an old boarding house just a couple of blocks south of downtown Tucson on March 1. There's room enough for all of us and to have extra room to offer hospitality.

In the near future we will offer ways to come and be part of community and spiritual practices at the house. So far there's talk of a Wednesday night meal and silent worship led by a member of the community that's a Quaker. And Kate is talking about a Sunday morning house church sort of gathering followed by brunch and daily contemplative prayer, probably at 6:30 am. And there's plenty of gardening and permaculture to get going. But we'll share more details when they are all in place.

Here's our freshly minted mission statement...

Nourished and empowered by the Spirit, the Restoration Project seeks to live in right relationship with one another, the community, and the earth through hospitality, simple and sustainable living, playful spirituality, and peaceful, prophetic action.

Right now among us are a 29-year old Quaker folk singer, two Presbyterian ministers in their early 30s, and their 18-month-old daughter who is learning sign language, Spanish, and English all at once. A 30-year old Episcopal priest with a call to re-imagine Christian community to be sustainable into the next generations, a 25-year-old who was raised evangelical and for the past two years lived in a Catholic Worker house and worked full time on humanitarian issues around the U.S./Mexico border, a 27-year-old Unitarian Universalist peace activist and independent journalist. And a 37-year old writer with an M.Div. and a penchant for mysticism.

Living in community is our attempt to live with hope and imagination during this time of global economic and environmental insecurity. Here in the desert and borderland of Southern Arizona we face many harsh realities—dwindling resources, water scarcity, a militarized border. By joining together in ecumenical worship we hope to be sustained for the work of serving and loving our community. By living simply and sharing resources we hope to live with a sense of abundance and to leave behind fear and scarcity. By using permaculture techniques we hope to eventually be able to grow a lot of our own food, and even have enough to share with others. We pray that our lives will be used by God and that we may join in Love's restoration of all creation so that all the earth may one day live in joy and harmony.

One of the songs we like to sing as a group is Freedom is Coming... "Oh Freedom, Freedom. Freedom is coming. Oh, yes I know." It captures that tension of living into the dream of God, knowing that it is both here now and yet longing for it to unfold even more fully.

We are blown away by the Spirit's work in our midst. And are walking around these last few days in awe-filled gratitude for the opportunity to live into the vision stirred within us. More to come!

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