Over spring break, my Vincent and Louise housemates and I traveled to Baltimore to learn from Jonah House, an intentional community rooted in faith, nonviolence, social justice, and civil resistance. The week was spent in playing with the livestock that roamed the grounds, working in the garden, celebrating community and cultivating our house tenet of social justice.
Four women aged 60 and beyond and one gentleman in his late 20s make up the current Jonah House community. Amongst them is Liz McAllister, an early organizer of some of the major civil resistance movements that erupted in the 1960s. From burning Vietnam draft files to founding the anti-nuclear plowshare movement in the 1980s, all while working to abolish the death penalty in between, McAllister and Jonah House continue to put their faith into action.
Many of my housemates and I went into the experience weary and uncertain of what the week would entail. Yet wherever we were on the spectrum and however we felt about the mission of Jonah House, we all knew we would be challenged one way or another. Every night we reflected on our day’s experience, attempting to deconstruct our lived experiences amongst the backdrop of this radical, Christian lifestyle.
A lot of us left Jonah House with more questions than answers. Emmanual Garcia, one of my nine housemates appreciated having the time and opportunity to step outside of his life in Chicago and at DePaul to reflect on questions like, “how can I practice nonviolence when we live a violent culture?” and “how can I integrate what I’m learning here with what I want to do in life?”
This was my second time visiting Jonah House, and I’m still completely unsure of how I support to incorporate these experiences into my life.