“What’s a Ruka?”

We’ve all gotten that question a lot, whether from family members, friends, professors, or random peers who came into contact with our fellowship, probably while we were professing our undying love for it. I’m still taken aback on how to answer (though if you want to know exactly, it’s a Chilean word to describe a structure where people come together to live as a community). The point I’m making is how do you explain to this person that it’s one of the biggest components of your life right now, and it’s something you constantly think about, without unjustly making it sound like a cult? Or talk about the importance of naming your need and having honest and direct communication without their eyes glazing over? How do you get people to understand that it’s more than just the hilarity of Alex drawing her own name seven times for Secret Snowflake? Or the feeling of success when you have a phenomenal flow of conversation with professors over dinner? Or the frustration of miscommunication and misunderstandings over toilet flushing? Or the cuteness of seeing your dog run around your backyard while you plant a garden with your roommates? Because it can’t be consolidated into just one of these experiences, how do you succinctly tell someone that the Ruka is your life?

The thing I’ve had to accept is that I really can’t. Someone who isn’t living it simply can’t understand what we’ve created. Even other people living in intentional communities don’t do so with these people, with these specific goals, with these circumstances, with these experiences. The Ruka is just different. So instead of trying to make people understand it, I’ve started to think that maybe all we can do is tell them what it’s done for us.

One of the things I pride myself on is that I’m a pretty great gift giver. I love finding things that suit the people I care about in my life, and presenting them (no pun intended) with something to say, hey, you’re someone worth perpetuating capitalism for. But what I hadn’t realized until recently is how perfect of a gift the Ruka has been to me. It’s given me friends, a support system, a community, a home, a lifestyle, a mentality, an awareness, and 1,874 life lessons.

More than this, it’s given me the motivation I need to not let the burnout of senior year make me complacent. I want to achieve the goals I set with these fine women way back at the beginning. I want to step up my game as a member of this community by maintaining an intentional mindset in all of my actions. I want to grow in my relationships with my fellow community members. I want to leave this home and this fellowship feeling like I gave it my all. The Ruka is truly a gift. It deserves to be treated like one. And because of that, I’ve recognized that the very nature of this fellowship is exactly what I needed this year, whether I knew it or not when I first applied.

I’m still processing these past few months (processing is also something I’ve also found to be a personal need), but hopefully now until May will give me some time to discover more of the things this opportunity has given to me. Aside from these magnificent people:



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