Today the 1st of May 2019, marks my 6 months since I joined the community at Ha Phororo Youth Retreat. When I came here, I thought it was going to be for a month or two, maximum three months since all indications where there. 6 months down the line here I am still standing. Mind you 23 years ago, I left home to join another community slightly different from this one. There I thought it was going to be for a life time but it was not to be, after 9 years, it was decided it was time for me to go. Could it be perhaps that this time around I will spend those 9 years here at Ha Phororo / Empophomeni? Entire life time perhaps? That is good enough to scare anyone. I know that this thought is very, remote, but just what if? this scares me for a variety of reasons mainly because there is a lot that happens here at Ha Phororo that happened less in the previous community. Fr Anthony De Mellow defines spirituality as “waking up” and this is sine qua non with being at Ha Phororo. What if I am not ready to be awake for 9 years or even my whole life? Yet the irony of it all is that I feel as if I have been most awake the past six months than I have ever been, not even the 9 years I spent in my previous community.

There is something about the community life here in Ha Phororo that leads one to be awake voluntarily sometimes involuntarily. Many who have lived here can testify to this. We are a community of all sorts as they put it in English. If one is not awake voluntarily perhaps through engaging in religious exercises of awareness, meditation, yoga or something like that, the experience of community life will force you one way or the other to wake up.

I have over the past six months enjoyed the laughter, bubbliness and the energy especially of the youngsters who are in training in this community while at times I have shed a tear or two, the fact that I have a gift of tears is besides the point. Both my experiences of community life here at Ha Phororo and my previous one, have taught me that it is not for the faint-hearted, yet the most wonderful experience one can go through if you want to be awake.  I have spent many moments in the past six months trying to make a journey inwards and it is not an easy one sometimes very unpleasant. Community life therefore becomes a very good space to make that journey and very convenient because when the inward journey becomes unpleasant you stop and look outward at the rest of the community members around you especially those who annoy you and wonder what God was thinking putting you around all the seemingly unpleasant people. This helps you to feel sorry for yourself through shifting all your life problems to others. My experience has been that when one gets to the stage of thinking like this, they have fallen in De Mellow’s back into their sleep because the fact is that my happiness or sadness has absolutely nothing to do with the other community members and the other way round, I mean for crying out loud who would be so bored spending their day, a week, a month perhaps 9 years crafting a million ways of making another person un happy or miserable?

When I come to think of it six months is not a long time in my young life of 40ish something depending on how you see this reality. Today the 1st of May I am therefore starting another journey of perhaps another six months or wait a second maybe 9 years, or am I going to succeed this time around to spend my entire life in a Christian community? Time will tell how long this time, but most definitely not 9 years otherwise I will go back to sleep and those around me who may have been sleeping may also never wake up.

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