I think I have stumbled upon an unexpected richness in the place in which I am living at the moment. While we are in Cambridge, Joel and I are living in a Christian study center housed in a rambling old home of narrow stairs and large windows peering out into a garden. It is a quiet place, a restful home to stumble back to in the evenings with our bags of groceries. We’ve made it a habit to fix a simple meal and eat it in the twilight of the apple tree shadows and sleepy roses. I have grown into a quiet fondness for it. But my liking is greatly formed and solidified because of the people who share this corner of earth with me. And I have decided that one of the best gifts of this summer is the chance to live quietly among them.
The real process of conversations and exchanged stories wasn’t fully begun until just the other night when one long-time resident threw a going-away garden party simply to enjoy his friends before he moved on to London and a new job. Aptin, a research assistant originally from Iran, gave a gala party in the summer evening with great bowls of fruit and platters of foreign cheese and nutty bread and a homemade Indian dessert. It drew us all out into the air, got us talking and discovering eachother’s laughter and lives. It gave me a chance to begin to know the friendly faces I had passed sleepily in the mornings and hurriedly at night. I was finally able to weave a beginning friendship around the chance encounters thus far.
I was eager to know Debbie better; a girl several years older than me who had come to my rescue more than once in the first days of discovering all the hidden corners of the house and locking myself out one night. Debbie studies at Robinson College just up the road, but has already spent six years in a contemplative community. Her good-natured patience has been a daily help. Ged, sitting next to her, is Debbie’s fellow house warden; a gracious, quiet woman who is living in this house after 20 years in a Carmelite monastery. She has accomodated my curiosity more than once and been quite obliging as I asked numerous questions about prayer and contemplation. Aptin, our host; whose great generosity made everything come alive and who has been our nightly cooking companion. Andreas, a German student , taking a year with the Cambridge chaplaincy, quite eager to share laughter and interesting tales of internship. I felt a gladness stealing over me the whole evening as I revelled in the discovery of lives and friendship with people from such different backgrounds than myself. I have never lived in an international community in this way before, but I find that there is friendship and laughter to be found with every single person; and I am somewhat shocked at the ready help and goodness these people who barely know me or even my language, are so eager to give.
This isn’t a very coherent post, but it’s some of the ramblings in my heart, and I suppose I simply want to picture out the goodness I am finding; the enjoyment of people from so many different walks; the greatfulness I feel for unexpected kindness, the delight I have in quickly given friendship. I’ve thought a lot this summer about Truth, but I have lived at home in a place that is daily building upon Love and I don’t think the first is real without the second.
So. There’s an incoherent ramble. Maybe it will lead you into some gladsome sort of thoughts. I’ll write again soon.