Since the last post, a lot has happened at the Ruka. We’ve had several wonderful guests over for meals–Dr. Larry Lacy and his wife Carol, Dr. and Mrs. Carden, and Professor McNary-Zak for a final breakfast. We’ve also had the opportunity to celebrate our graduation with Noel and the kids at Peacemakers and with our families, friends and professors in a party at our house after graduation last Saturday. We’ve begun passing on the blog and other information to the new ruka members for next year, and we look forward to reading their entries as they begin to reflect on life in the Ruka together.
Most of us are moving out and onto different places to engage with different communities next year. Catherine’s off to India in July for nine months to work in Social Enterprise through a fellowship with Oglethorpe University (let her know if you want to donate some money :)). Maggie’s going to teach in Atlanta with TFA, Leigh’s going to become a famous musician in Nashville (let her know if you want to hire her :)), and Shelby’s moving back home to spend a summer with her sisters before she gets married. Sarah and I are hanging in the house that now looks empty, as all the couches we used to brag about have exited and left us with a living area that resembles a soccer field (not that we would try that out or anything).
Losing the furniture and silverware and dinning tables reminds me of the importance of community, and how important it has been to be a part of a group of six individuals. The Ruka would not have worked if it were only one of us, just like the house doesn’t work without Leigh’s silverware and all of our couches. Recently I’ve been trying to talk about the Ruka and I’m reminded that it’s impossible to do so without relying on the language of “us” and “we.” There wasn’t any one person who made all of it happen, no one individual who exemplified the community, there were six people who came together around a common set of goals and agreed to work together as a community and that’s the legacy that we leave for the new members of the Ruka. We pass on the opportunity to engage together in community and rely on one another, because each member brings an essential perspective, a key ingredient.
Personally, I am blessed to have learned so much from community members, and I look forward to maintaining our relationships outside of the Ruka. Reflecting over multiple experiences in community, I realize that a lasting lesson I hope to pack with me as everyone leaves is that the process of pushing through difficult experiences and relying on others refines a person and develops both stronger communities and stronger individuals. Over and over again we have been challenged to live in a hot house, to live with each other, to grow things in the backyard, to not throw our clothes in the dryer, to cry together over loss, to work together to overcome obstacles; and I’ve learned that I’m smarter when I have others to discuss with, I’m happier when there are people to share in my joy, I’m braver when my housemates are standing by cheering for me. We’ve learned that we’re better when we’re relying on one another.
We’ve been blessed to have so much support from Rhodes and members of the Memphis community and we hope that the new Ruka members can continue to receive the same encouragement.