Life in Community: End-of-Term Reflections

Tell us your story.

At the end of each term, our students are given an assignment as part of the Place, Home, & Land course that asks them to share their stories. Choosing to focus on a central theme of either place, home, or land, students carefully consider their journeys in Act Five so far, as well as everything in their past that has brought them here. It’s a chance for them to ask themselves, what does this all mean? Why does this matter? What has been happening in me this year and what will that look like going forward?

Understandably, an assignment that requires so much honest soul-searching tends to bring up a lot of anxiety in our students. Not to mention that they’re required to read these stories aloud to all the Act Five staff members, housemates, and peers.

Tell us your story.

Not an easy feat.

But our students were up to it. On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings this past week, the Act Five community gathered in our main floor living room to listen. And despite all the students’ fears and anxieties—or maybe even because of them—the stories were absolutely beautiful.

As a resident in this home, it has been a joy to watch the students grow, change, and mature over the course of the semester. Their walls are breaking down bit by bit, their sharp edges softening. Seeing them learn to trust one another, practice openness and honesty with each other, and find belonging here in this home, is truly inspiring. It reinforces my belief in the power of love, grace, and acceptance; in the power of community.

As beautiful as life at Blake Street is, it can get pretty difficult to keep rose-coloured glasses on. We are constantly confronting one another’s brokenness in our ordinary time together. Our masks fall away in our day-to-day lives, in the small moments of anger, sadness, frustration, and bitterness. We get irritated when others don’t wash their dishes, or show up late to scheduled events, or don’t listen well to us. At Blake Street, we see each other as the messy, flawed humans that we are.

And yet, we love each other. Because the truest, fullest love there is—the love of Christ—comes when we acknowledge the brokenness of others as well as our own. We love each other not because we deserve it, but in spite of the fact that we don’t. Being vulnerable and genuine with one another allows this kind of love to flourish.

In Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem”, there’s a line that I really like: There is a crack, a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in. Exposing our “cracks” allows the light and love of God to shine through us.

One student shared in their story, “Act Five is… full of people who genuinely love and support everyone in the community. It is a very healthy environment. I feel like it is a tight-knitted community that truly cares. I feel like I have a place here, like I belong here… This program has taught me I can let down my walls. I have learned that I don’t have to be so cold-hearted and I can let people see the real me… Act Five has taught me that it is okay to trust people again.”

What an incredible thing to witness such vulnerability firsthand. What an incredible thing to be part of this program, as twenty-two strangers come together in this home and learn to care deeply for one another. What an incredible thing to watch a family form before your very eyes! We are so proud of our students, and so delighted with how far they’ve already come.

As we move into our next semester, preparing for international trips, placements, and neighbourhood engagement, we continue to think about what it means to participate in the Kingdom beyond Blake Street. How can the students take all that they’ve learned, all the growth and change that they’ve experienced so far, and turn it outward? How can we extend the love that we’ve gained for each other, the love of Christ, to all other areas of the world around us?

On Wednesday, we fittingly ended our time of storytelling by singing “Take, O Take Me as I Am” together:

Take, o take me as I am

Summon out what I shall be

Set your seal upon my heart

And live in me.

These lyrics speak to what our students have accomplished during this first term: they are finding belonging here at Blake Street. They are learning how to love one another for who they are, and how to see each other and themselves as Christ does.

Our prayer for next term, then, is that God would continue to summon out who these students are meant to be; that He would continue to teach them how to be vulnerable with one another and to live fully into their identities as image-bearers of God. We pray that God sets His seal upon the hearts of our students and dwells within them, and we ask for your prayers in this, too.


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