By Erin Monaghan
“How do you like living at Grace-on-the-Hill?” I have been asked this question since the first week I moved to Richmond. My short answer? “Its great!” And it is; but that’s not the whole answer. Throughout this season of life I have made great friends, felt accepted and at home in a new church, and thoroughly enjoyed my job placement. At the same time, this experience has also been more challenging than I thought it would be. So for those who have asked, and those who are curious, here is my full answer.
Life in community is busy. Grace-on-the-Hill is truly a 24/7 job. Although we work at our worksites for 32 hours a week, my “job” as GOTH resident requires much more. Each week we have Formation (which generally consists of a program director or guest speaker leading us in spiritual growth activities), communal prayer, a house meeting, house dinner, and a scheduled fun activity. We also go to church at St. Andrew’s almost every Sunday, and commit two hours of time each week to participation in the life of the church. On top of all of the calendar events, living in an intentional community means being at home is part of your work. Even when I’m tired or things are challenging at home, I still have to figure out a way to engage with my community while practicing self care. All of this to say, my GOTH schedule is busy, living in a house with others necessitates being present, and adding in other events from life outside the house makes for a very full life.
Life in community is challenging. I had this expectation that life in community would be easy. I don’t know where this expectation came from, as every year at college presented itself with new and different roommate challenges. When it came time to move in I soon realized that living in a house full of very different adults takes some getting used to. From differences in sleep schedules, to favorite conversation topics, to food preferences, not one person in this house is the same as another. While these differences enrich our community, they also make intentionality a necessity in building relationships. For me, the best way that I have grown friendships within the house were by asking someone, or being asked, to do things together. Going grocery shopping doesn’t seem very exciting, but when you go to Costco for the first time and get a chance to spend one-on-one time with someone, you’d be surprised at how much fun that can actually be.
Life in community has allowed for self-exploration. Having graduated with a degree in Cross-Cultural Christian Ministries, one thing I was extremely excited about was potentially working for the Diocese of Virginia in the office of Mission & Outreach. I know how challenging it is for people my age to get a job in their field right after college, and I know many don’t ever use what they studied after college. I have absolutely loved working at the Diocese, exploring the work of the offices of Mission & Outreach, Christian Formation, and even helping out a bit in Communication. This opportunity gave me a chance to realize that I really enjoy working for the church in this way. During my time with St. Andrew’s, I have been able to participate in different ministries of the church including altar guild, ushering, chalice bearing, and working in the nursery. Participating in these ways have given me a chance to not only get to know people from church, but also what ministries I enjoy and am spiritually fed through.
Ultimately, life in community is good. Although this year has been very busy and has at times been challenging, I have appreciated the opportunity to learn about myself, my housemates, and my other communities. Recently, the question people have been asking me is, “Would you do Grace-on-the-Hill again?” My short answer? “Yes.”