Act Five’s Residence Manager, Madison Eckert, writes about life in Act Five in the summertime. Enjoy, as she describes the particular highlights of this past season.
It was a Friday evening in August. The Act Five summer residents were gathered in a backyard of a board member. We had just finished playing some competitive games of Spikeball, and a few had been floating in the pool, but now we had plates in hand, each scouting out a seat at the table. We all nestled into place, digging in the first few forkfuls of salad and bites of hamburger, and began debriefing our summer together.
“Describe in a few words what summer 2023 was for you.”
We slowly made our way around the table, attentively listening to each person share their reflections on the last few months of life in this community. For some the theme was transition, for others it was healing. For one it was a summer of being courageous. Yet, for another it was not at all what they expected it to be. Our personal experiences varied, yet we lived those different experiences under the same roof together – letting our own realities collide with one another’s for a few months.
“What was one significant rhythm or moment from the last few months of living at Blake Street?”
A couple residents piped up about the work days. “Work Days” are intentional dates set aside in the summer to invest in this home together – through gardening or painting, for example. For one resident, they appreciated the time set aside to simply work with their hands alongside someone else. “We could then just talk while working,” they described.
For a few of the others, significant rhythms were morning and evening prayer. Each weekday at 7:15am and 9:30pm, you could find housemates sitting together in the living room praying. The liturgical prayers, combined with the consistency of showing up, gave us each new language to inform our understanding of prayer, and, in turn, a deeper sense of the character of God. These interruptions in our days to pray together also gave touchpoints for housemates to connect about their days and how they were doing.
A reflection on the summer wouldn’t be complete without a resident noting Jazz Nights. Jazz Nights began by noticing that it is quite possible to live in a community home and not be known. This is especially true with a summer crew who all lead different lives in different directions. So, at a neighbourhood restaurant that has live jazz music every Wednesday, you could find a group of us chatting around a table. The only rule was this: you cannot simply talk about what you did that day. We wrestled through conversations of faith, and also asked hard questions of each other to learn new things, many of which usually sit beneath the surface. Jazz Nights are the place where people show up with a desire to be known and to know each other.
Lastly, one other resident talked about Act Five’s partnership with Micah House being a significant part of their summer here. Every other Wednesday, the Act Five community at Blake Street brings dinner to Micah House, a home for refugee claimants just a couple blocks away. And on the odd occasion, Micah House residents come to share dinner in the backyard of our home. One of those nights this summer we had a volleyball game, and English, French, and Spanish were all being spoken! Having these moments with neighbours without a shared language is a beautiful thing.
As we finished our dinner on this one particular Friday evening in August, we found ourselves with an enhanced perspective on what this summer meant for us, individually and collectively. We were compelled forward with a more deeply rooted gratitude for this short moment in time to live life together.
And out of that, we stacked our dishes and went back to playing and swimming and laughing some more before heading back to the place we all called home. And now, this home has launched them into their next place. They know that Blake Street is always a home they can return to – even if it’s just for a plate of Spaghetti.