Re-membering in a time of distance

By Jeanette Moss

Bumping elbows at a kitchen sink. Stepping on toes while dancing. Two hands touch when reaching into a bowl. Walking into a person when coming out of an elevator.  When these physical altercations happen it reminds me  

where I end and where your body begins. 

But what happens when there is distance between us? What happens when we don’t bump into one another or have a regular slightly awkward connection (partly due to the fact that I have food in my teeth from lunch?). What happens when the only version of me is seen through zoom, or my profile pic. 

What happens when there is a (perceived or real) conflict between us and then ALL there is – is space? Loads of space and time. Heaps of distance and no bumping into each other. What happens? 

Well I’m starting to think that something weird happens; something very strange. 

With you not there, I fill in the gap.  

Filling the gap means that I predict where I end and where you begin. Or course, I can’t know for sure, but I predict what you’d say, or what you’d think, or feel. My (very active) imagination tries to fill the gap between where I am and where you begin.  As a child of the 80s and coming from guilt-ridden viking heritage, my filling in the gap are stories, actually they are more like worst-case scenarios. Simply put, they’re grim. My macabre imagination can often shape a dark story of where you are (physically) or what you think (about a relevant issue), or how you feel (about me or veganism). But if who I am and what I think doesn’t get an opportunity to bump up against you and we can’t talk about it. Things go weird.

Metaphorically speaking – if there is no one beside me on the bus (which for this metaphor is my imagination) then I will man-spread sit and put arms out so wide it will embarrass you and your grandma. But if I know you are right behind me then I will do my best to make sure both bum cheeks are on one seat(ish) and I will do my best to keep my bag on my lap (like a human). When the bus gets bumpy and our arms touch, I am reminded that I am me, and you are you.  

Because when I know you’re there – I make space for you.   

The “Archbishop of Vulnerable Leadership” (my title for her) Brene Brown talks about the power of confronting these stories by saying “The story I’ve been running in my head is…..” as a way to check with the person on whether the narrative we’ve constructed matches the person’s experience.  The story I’ve been running in my head could be that 

  • You don’t like me anymore
  • You’re too busy for me
  • You’re mad at me
  • You don’t trust me anymore because…
  • You can’t see me
  • You’re too fearful to talk about what’s really important
  • You don’t think I made a good choice 
  • You haven’t forgiven me

I’ve used this a few times over the years and I’m happy to report – Brene knows a few things. Every time I lead with “the story I’ve been running in my head is…” it turns out my story is wrong! Or maybe there’s some truth but it’s NEVER been the whole story. 

So before we race to gather again and bump elbows or step on toes (which I’m SO excited to do that’ll likely hurt myself and you in the process), be courageous and check in with those people in your life that you’ve been running stories on. 

It might be hard to put your preconceived ideas aside. It likely will be. But know that when you make space for another person to speak truthfully – rather than letting your imagination tell you what might be there – you are making room for the paradoxical, the complex, the painful and the sheer beauty of what IS. 

Me: The story I’ve been running in my head is that thanks to Covid and Instagram there is so much distance and so much polarity between us.

You? Are you sure it’s because of Covid, I mean maybe it’s always been there and you’re just noticing it now?  

Me: Ya, you’re probably right – can we talk about this space between us?

You? Yes.

Me: Before we start, how do you feel about PDA?

4 Years and 1 Global Pandemic Later – Keep Curious and Be Brave

Written by Jeanette Moss – Director of Strategy and Development at Co:Here Community. 

This is my 5th year of working for Salsbury Community Society (SCS) at Co:Here. Co:Here community is a group of people who live in a rental apartment building built on Grandview Church’s parking lot and operated by Salsbury Community Society (SCS).  SCS provides affordable housing with support for people from a range of backgrounds and works to foster a culture of neighbourliness.  

Five years 

As I look back at that first year before moving into the brand new building, I recall that it was such an intense time. For a small staff team of three, there was so much to do getting the building ready, screening applications and inviting the initial group of tenants, working with construction crews and tradespeople, setting up organizational and financial systems, and… and…. 

A Place to Call Home: Then and Now

Housing stories from Canadians includes Co:Here as a group of people working together to build better lives, create stronger communities and lend a helping hand to people in need, from opening to today.

THEN: Read the November 2018 article here.

NOW: Read the October 2020 article about Co:Here’s agile approach to fight COVID-19 here.

Nurturing Communities Conference

Launched in 2010, The Nurturing Communities Project (NCP) nurtures and resources intentional spiritual communities across North America. David Janzen, author of The Intentional Christian Community Handbook: For Idealists, Hypocrites, and Wannabe Disciples of Jesus recognized the need and value of bringing together more experienced communal groups and energetic leaders from younger communities to share old wisdom and new experiences for the long haul. The latest NCP conference was held in October 2014 in Chicago, hosted by Reba Place Fellowship, the home community of David Janzen.

Chris Hellewell, a member of Salsbury’s board of directors, and 2 members of our partnering church Grandview Calvary Baptist attended. They were sent to share and gain insights around intentional community living and to build connections with other groups to enliven and sustain our efforts. Their reflections on their experience follows.

Bidding Farewell to Dave and Teresa

On December 6th 2014, Salsbury held a farewell party for Dave and Teresa Diewert to celebrate their presence in and contribution to the community life of one of our community homes, Imayoshi, for over 10 years. With hearts oriented towards grace, ‘the long road,’ and care Dave and Teresa attended to the many lives of those who lived with them over these years, becoming family to many. They raised their three teen-aged children while they lived at Imayoshi expanding their experience and sense of what ‘family’ is and what it means to live a life open to the stranger.

Toward Forming a Community

With the backdrop of a spring 2015 ground breaking for the Co:Here Community Building thoughts and efforts of Salsbury Community Society (SCS) staff and board turn towards the individuals who will be living there and what life within the building could look like. While the tenants themselves are yet unconfirmed SCS’ hope and endeavour is to offer them a solid framework, foundation and safe beginning point from which to build and grow their particular community.