What has become clear to us through our visits to intentional communities, is that pastoral support, both individual and cooperate, is vital. Visits to personal spiritual directors and counsellors are common, and sometimes a requirement of community membership. Regular scheduled ‘check-in’ sessions, where people can share their struggles and triumphs, is a healthy rhythm to get into. At QIV-C, where residents live in separate houses, a good hour of more is devoted to this process at their monthly community meetings. A similar process occurs at Windsor Hill Wood every Tuesday morning, where residents rub shoulders at the dining table every day. Many communities have periods of down time, closing to visitors, in order for members to recuperate, recharge and focus on the bonds of fellowship within the community itself. An annual retreat, often guided by someone from outside the community, is another invaluable tool in ensuring the spiritual and emotional health of the core community members, as is the practice of having inter-visitations with a sister/mother community.
Throughout our journey so far, we have been upheld by our support group through their prayers, emails, Skype calls and face-to-face conversations. Before we embarked on our year in communities, we asked a group of friends if they were happy to receive regular updates and prayer requests from us. Although I’ve got this blog to document our thoughts and experiences, it’s not the place to let off steam, explain delicate situations or share personal details. Our support group is there for us if we need to communicate anything that can’t go on the blog. We asked people who understand what we’re trying to do. Most of them have experience of intentional community, and I feel we know them in the ‘things that are eternal’. We are so grateful for their friendship and the time they set aside to read our emails and to listen. For our support group – we give thanks!