One of the odd attractions of Iona for me is living in community. Yes, this severely introverted person enjoys living in close quarters with others. It doesn’t mean I don’t still need a time to myslef, but it has given me a good sense of what it means to live and work with like minded others, who are quite different from myself.
My work team is headed by a young woman from Uganda, who is very quiet but generates authority from her nature. She does’t need to seem authoritative, she simply is. And she seems to negotiate everything to everyone’s favor. My other team members are a women about my age from Alberta Canada who has retired and is transitioning to a new type of life. She describes herself as task oriented, but she seems to be so in a long cut/short cut method. She adds little extra steps which in foresight seem to take time but in the long run make less work. The other team members are younger but equally hard working, a woman from Paraguay and one from Ontario Canada. We each have different strengths and weaknesses and work together to maximize and minimize each. For example, I feel a bit uncomfortable on the narrow ladders to the bunk beds, particularly when changing linen, but the younger folks don’t seem to mind and take that task from me.
In my sleeping accommodations I share a bedroom and toilet with four other women; one my age and three much younger women, one from Canada, one from Finland and one from Germany. There is one serious snorer (not me). One who talks in her sleep (not me). One who averages about 3 – 4 hours of sleep a night (not me). And one who goes to bed and gets up early (that would be me). We converse and compare our work days and plan our days off. We are respectful of one another when needing quiet space or sleeping. (The Finnish kid waves goodnight or good morning to me each day. And when one of us is feeling under the weather everyone takes time to check on you.
In addition to sharing sleeping accommodations, I share showering, kitchen and dining space with 14 others; 5 males (all young) and 9 women (6 younger). And it does take a bit of care and patience. Sometimes the younger ones dart off and forget to pick up their cups. Currently we are sharing one shower, so bathing quickly has become an art form. And last night, after a viewing of the Exorcist (not by me) the young people built a fort in our living area (and it had a name). Several of them spent the night there.
It may not be the thinest of places, but it causes me to return and brings me great joy.
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