A Community Unfolds

Several Backpack group members sitting on the wall behind our guest house in Nogales, Arizona
Several Backpack group members sitting on the wall behind our guest house in Nogales, Arizona.

*I wrote this yesterday but I am posting it today due to lack of Internet access*

May, 22. Nogales, Arizona. 10:24 p.m. 70 degrees.

When you can’t think of what to write, start by looking at what’s right in front of you.

I, along with five other students, sit around a table for 10, staring aimlessly at mini iPads and attempting to think of what to write. Two, 12-hour days in a van has left us delirious, giggly and definitely not focused enough to write a blog.

But as I look at all of us, sitting around this table, I realize how analogous this is of the trip, or pilgrimage, so far.

Through conversing and sharing around this table, we continue to discover community at a gathering place. I’ve felt this community throughout the trip a number of times.

I experienced it first in the reflection before we left, and then in the car on the way down. To be honest, I thought the drive down here was so much fun. It was full of good conversation, beautiful scenery, long naps, good reads, lots of dancing and well-spaced bathroom stops. It was a time of bonding and getting to know one another.

When we arrived in Nogales, Ivan, a Jesuit priest, greeted us and gave us a tour of the home we’d be living in the next two weeks.

The basementless house splits into two wings, each wing offering large empty bedrooms filled with mismatched air mattresses, all dressed in a blanket and pillow. In the center of the house you’ll find the common area, the big table I’m sitting at, along with the kitchen.

I’m not really sure what feng shui is, but I feel like this house has good feng shui. It is here, in this house and at this table, where the theme of community has continued to unfold. The space is designed is such a way that it promotes community, while allowing for seclusion.

Initially, the thought of being in the same small premise with 15 others for two weeks was worrisome to me, someone who needs time and space alone. However, while I know there are times in the next two weeks when I might get uncomfortable or annoyed, these will be growing opportunities for me.

Uncomfortable situations and moments are inevitable in a person’s life. The learning comes in when you have to evaluate why you’re uncomfortable, and what you can do to overcome it.

So far, the group’s dynamic has been one of rooting for one another, working together and learning about eachother’s backgrounds. The reflections, road trip, gathering table and living space have only helped foster this naturally growing community.



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