When people ask what my favorite part of living in the Ruka is, what immediately pops into mind is a conglomeration of small moments that come with living in community with four other people: catching up at the end of a long day, supporting each other through tough projects, our mutual excitement at seeing the first sprouts of our freshly planted vegetable garden. The longer this fellowship goes on (how are we already halfway done with the semester?!), the more thankful I am to live with this group of caring, unique, supportive women – and it’s the little things that remind me of this.
One practice of ours that consistently brightens my week and brings a reminder of what it means to live intentionally with one another in our weekly Monday night dinners. While not necessarily a “little” moment, it has the tendency to fall into the everyday. I grew up in a family that eats a home-cooked meal every night. It’s an important part of who we are and how we connect with each other. Food has a special meaning in my life (as anyone who knows me can attest), and making and enjoying it together is one of my favorite ways to bond with others.
I didn’t realize how much I would miss that tradition coming to college. In college, while you might eat dinner with your friends, it’s rarely family style. The Rat, the Rat food, and the rushing from one meeting to the next make for quite a different environment.
In the Ruka, however, we dedicate time to cooking with each other and sharing our days and our goals over a meal. We laugh and tell stories as we’re getting ready for dinner. Inevitably, no matter who is actually cooking the meal, all five of us end up congregating in the kitchen. Occasionally, the meal ends with all five of us piling into the car and going to Jerry’s, regardless of how much homework each of us has to do.
As a practice that has brought people together for millennia, sharing a meal does not seem all that remarkable. But when the meal is used as a chance to escape or decompress from whatever else we’re facing – to breathe a breath of fresh air and reconnect with the meaning behind our fellowship – it transforms into the brightest part of my week. Since food has played a vital role in my experience of community thus far, it makes perfect sense that I would gravitate toward this topic in thinking about community and intentionality. Food is important. Food is nourishing. And when made with the goal of bringing together a community of five people with different diets, likes, and dislikes, food becomes intentional. Food becomes personal. Food becomes art. It is a special and beautiful thing to share in this weekly ritual with four other incredible women, and I can’t wait to see what stories are made as we continue the practice throughout this year.