One of my favorite bloggers (hell, writers) Betty Duffy wrote a marvelous piece about the public life of the family. She remembers the early days of their marriage in which she and her husband graciously accepted relatives who needed a place to stay. She reminisces about the conversations and good times on the porch, but she's blunt about the inconveniences.
I'm re-reading this post as I contemplate our move to Savannah, Georgia (yes, God heard my prayer and we won't be building snowmen in October). The diocese has graciously provided us with housing and utilities since my husband's second job will be supervising a group home of young adult interns for the diocese. We will be living on the top floor of a big, rambling 3 story built in the 20s when wrap-around porches and high-ceilings still existed in the South. We stayed there this past weekend while he had final interviews with the diocesan committee to approve his ordination - and yes, we're ready to roll! It already feels like home. I grew up in an old neighborhood completely shaded by ancient live oaks draped in Spanish moss; my apartment in grad school was a second-story with wood floors, art deco bathroom tile, and questionable plumbing. The cynic in me was checking ceilings and door frames for the tell-tale signs of decay, but I was too giddy to give it a good once-over.
We will be sharing the house with an unknown number of single adults working internships for the Episcopal Church. In this case, "sharing" means participating in morning and evening prayer (at least so far as my work schedule will allow), frequently sharing meals, participating in a Tuesday night Bible study that's open to the community, and knowing that on Friday afternoons a group from the church across the street will be running a backpack food service for underprivileged children out the back door. We share a kitchen, dining room, and living room with the interns, but we have our own bathroom, bedroom, spare bedroom, and study upstairs. It's an adventure in full-time hospitality.
I'd be lying if I denied any hesitations and worries.
This is one of those "absolutely the best thing that could happen to us" moments while also being a "really God? Why?" moments. I know that financially, it's an answered prayer. Socially, it will help us meet people more quickly (not that that would be an issue - we're in the heart of Savannah and surrounded by Episcopalians). It's a great opportunity for my husband to practice the kind of ministry he most wants to do - radical hospitality and welcoming of outsiders. The location is excellent, right in downtown. What am I afraid of?
I like to shut my door on the world, throw on some cookie pants and flop on the couch. I like dashing naked from the bathroom when I remember that my shampoo is still in my travel bag. I like leaving dishes in the sink when I'm tired, having a grocery bag with pads on the living room floor that I'll put away "later."
I like hiding from the world when I'm depressed, avoiding the questions and concern, withdrawing from social events because I don't know when the next panic attack will strike.
When I told my husband I was OK with him pursuing the priesthood, I knew about the price. I knew about the loss of privacy, the loss of control, the loss of anonymity. I also knew that my besetting sins are bound up in those words: fear of loosing a tight grip on reality, paranoia about what other people think, craving to be alone whenever I feel like it regardless of the needs of others. And I know that God knows what He's doing.
But damn, I'm going to miss eating ice cream out of the carton in the living room.