The Ruka has been a pretty happening place lately. About two weeks ago we had a lovely 4 days off from Rhodes College (fall break) and the night before classes resumed we all headed home to the Ruka to have a community meal. Chef Shelby Kramer bought eggplant from the farmer’s market and planned a fabulous menu of eggplant parmesan, an italian salad, and garlic bread and we finished dinner off with a “rustic apple tart.” Imagine all 6 of us in the kitchen with our selection of dull knives and colanders and bowls and parmesan cheese and apple peeling and eggplant dicing and sauce making — it was crazy, and awesome. It was actually a really suprising and refreshing evening for me, because while I love and feel like I know my fellow community members quite well, I was able to come to understand them better and learn new things.  Chaplin Sarah Dockery led a game where we asked questions like: 1. Tell us about one of your uncles. 2. How did you view yourself in middle school? 3. What is a funfact about your childhood that we don’t know. 4. What is a little known goal for your future.  We wrote our responses, put them in Leigh’s big, beautiful, wooden Ecuadorian bowl and read them allowed and guessed whose was whose. Did you know that Shelby was almost in the movie My Dog Skip???? It’s true. Did you know Leigh has an uncle named Ricky Bobby? Or that Jami used to wear huge bows in her hair?

The following week, a couple who many of us babysit for (they have two AWESOME little boys) and who are Rhodes alums, Mary Allison and Andy, had us over for an amazing dinner. (We like food in the Ruka — and conversation).  We all topped homemade pizza dough with our choice of toppings and we grilled them! In the grill! It was amazing.  It was a great time and such a gift to share and learn from the community of their family.

The following evening, Friday, we had Onie Johns, of Caritas Village, a local coffee shop/community center (please see Loving Our Community Tab on the blog)  over for a dinner of Butternut Squash soup, salad, cornbread, grilled potatoes and pumpking pie (made from a REAL PUMPKIN by Ms. Leigh DeVries). Unbelievable. Pumpkin pie is my favorite foods. Leigh does it right. More important than the evening’s food was our guest. It was such an honor to, in her words “put our feet under the same table” and discuss community. We hashed out thoughts on community for a good three hours with her (and also Sarah’s lovely mother, Melody, who was in town for the weekend!)  and, I speak for everyone, learned so much. Onie felt called into community a while back, and has since been living in community and pouring herself into the Caritas Village. The website, caritasvillage.org, explains that Caritas is: “A coffee shop and cultural center immersed and wrapped in community, Caritas Village seeks to break down walls of hostility between and among neighboring cultures, and build bridges of love and trust between the rich and those made poor. We also seek to provide a positive alternative to the street corners for the neighborhood children.This simple place where community folk come for a cup of coffee and arts immersion is where community gathers to share and form relationships. It is a church of sorts- that provides food for both the body and soul.

We talked about ways to get involved and serve at Caritas, and Onie questioned us about the joys and challenges we have each encountered while living in the Ruka. Mostly, we left dinner feeling genuinly refreshed and encouraged.  Thanks, Onie!

Catherine is going to be writing soon to share about our first big Rhodes event, a Halloween party, we hosted Saturday night.

A few smaller details of daily Ruka life:

I spent a bit of the afternoon transplanting our swiss chard shoots into our garden. I’m excited for them to grow so that I can eat them.

Tonight we have our weekly community meetings. It’s starting to be pretty cold at night, so I am looking forward to discussing (among other fascinating matters) heating options (what temperature we are going to be setting the thermostat at, when we are going to turn the heat on ect.)

Our token enviormentalist, Leigh DeVries, ordered little raindrop shaped digital shower timers that stick to the shower wall and have a countdown for shower time. They are really helping us keep to our short shower commitment. We are sort of competitive and some people are pretty hardcore about who can take THE shortest shower. We also ordered and recieved a recycling bin that is helping keep things organized. It’s been raining a lot which gives us a break from watering! We like that.

Catherine Appleton, treasurer and 1/2 marathon trainer, is keeping us on top of our community finances and led the way Sunday morning  as Leigh, Jami, Catherine and I ran 11 miles. I never thought I could run eleven miles, nor did I ever really have a desire to.  I promise you (whoever is reading this) that I could not have done that on my own. Training for the St. Jude’s 1/2 marathon has really been a picture for me of the ways in which my community members encourage me — in big ways and in the small, everyday, tangible things.  (Yeah, I don’t run 11 miles every day, but . . . .).

Peace, Maggie

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