Living in Community III: Common Courtesies

Those of you that live in shared housing with a spouse or a child or other family members have to extend courtesies to those you live with. Now you may not even think about it or you may wonder why others don’t extend more courtesies. Living in a home with 14 others, many of whom are younger brings an interesting set of courtesies and educational opportunities.
For example, the women’s bedrooms each have a water closet (toilet and basin). One of the beds in the room backs up to the wall with the water tank in it, so that if you are in that bunk every flush of the toilet is a rude wake up call. So by mutual agreement we don’t flush once someone has gone to bed or it is past 8 a.m. The male quarters are adjacent to our tiny kitchen so if there signs indicate one of them is sleeping we try and keep the noise down. And because you are sharing shower facilities (facility) you try and keep those short and sweet, 6 minutes is considered optimal.
But those aren’t my favorite courtesies. My favorites are actually how all who live here try to include anyone present in their activities. You are always inviting or being invited to be involved in something. Now sometime it is not practical, such as the invitation I received to go climbing on the rock face on the south end of the island looking for the Spouting Cave. Or today when the kids invited me to go swimming — the water is 58 degrees — no thanks. But they always ask, and sometimes we surprise them like agreeing to watch a popular television series someone brought on DVD. And we invite them, but somehow our “reindeer games” don’t entice them to “join in.”
The bottom line is we take each other’s needs into account, young or old, we make an effort to make space in our lives for everyone. That makes this a thin place indeed.


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