What is community?
When I came to Malone as a first year student I lived in Woolman Hall. I experienced community like I never had before. I lived on a hall with 15 or so other women, mostly first year students but also some sophomores. I went to floor events hosted by my RA, and participated in the spontaneous escapades for which WWF is famous. My door was open often and conversations that entailed yelling to the room five doors down was a norm. I thought that I was experiencing community at its greatest height, so I decided to stay in Woolman another year. I was a Woolman-lifer.
Then at the end of my sophomore year, I was hired as an RA. When I opened my acceptance letter that chilly March day, my heart stopped. “Blossom?” I read out loud. Why would they put me in Blossom? Blossom Hall was at the very bottom of my list of preferred residence halls. In fact, I didn’t even include it as an option on my application. My heart felt broken. Woolman is my home; I don’t know how to live in Blossom.
I was open to any other building on campus. I knew that I would miss Woolman if I was placed somewhere else, but I knew that they could place me anywhere. But why would anyone choose to live in Blossom? From what I had heard, Blossom was where the women who broke the rules lived. Blossom Hall was full of women who kept their doors shut, didn’t go to floor events, and who loved studying more than community.
“There’s no community in Blossom.”
I heard this when I lived in Woolman, and I hear it now as an RA and faithful resident to Blossom Hall. What’s interesting about this is that I only hear it from people who have never actually lived in Blossom Hall. I loved Woolman, but it was my only picture, my only story, of what community looked like. I had a definition of community that I was unaware of at the time. In my mind, community equals open doors, conversation in the hallway, Bible studies crowded with people, deciding to go to Late-night instead of doing homework.
But these things do not equal community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer warns against these “human wish dreams” of community. He says in Life Together:
“Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
I still consider myself a Woolman-lifer at heart. WWF is a special place on campus, and those who live there know that. But Blossom is also a special place, and only those who live there know that as well. Our hall might be full of very busy women, but those women are wise; they have gone to Malone three or four years, and in that time have learned about themselves and about others. Those women are hungry. Hungry to serve the Malone community and the community in Canton. As an RA I am blessed to serve in the halls of Blossom. The conversations that I encounter, the amount of women who pray for me, the dreams and fears and redemption that I see in the halls of Blossom are only known to those who reside in those rooms.
To those who say there is no community in Blossom, try expanding your definition of what community is. I had to when I moved to Blossom, and I do not regret it.
Kayla DeVitto is a communications major with an emphasis in public relations.