Loving This “Fishbowl” Life

By Caitlin Windsor, who serves with her husband Matt in the Oji-Cree Bible translation project in Kingfisher Lake, Ont.

Kids and leaders at a Daily Vacation Bible School held last summer in Kingfisher Lake.

One of the biggest differences in our life now is not having our own living space. We live in what you can probably best picture as a church basement that is open to the public with offices that are used Monday-Friday upstairs. Sometimes it’s just our family staying downstairs, but sometimes there are guests who stay for anywhere from one night to a couple weeks. The building is also open for community events sometimes, like using the kitchen for cookout stuff or the main space for a workshop on traditional teas. The other night we ate our spaghetti dinner while an elder sat nearby in the entryway gutting a cooler of fish. It was awhile before I realized that once upon a time that would have seemed much stranger to me than it did!

There have been a lot of growing pains for our family as we’ve adjusted over the last year to sharing space with other people. The idea of “needing” privacy is deeply ingrained in mainstream North American culture. I used to think that I needed complete privacy so that I could truly relax, or to parent my kids, or have authentic conversation with Matt. But I think I’ve learned two crucial things: how to live normally even with other people around, and workarounds for when we really do need privacy. Basically, it comes down to this being what true community is, people seeing you in your entirety. That’s probably part of why you don’t need to knock before you go into someone’s house here — you just open the door and go on in.

And there is beauty to be found as I learn to embrace the authenticity of it. As lots of you know, I have some leftover neurological glitches from past brain bleeds.  I’m used to just staying home for the most part if I’m having an off day and my left side isn’t working (on bad days I basically just drag my left half around with me).  Is that desire to hide based in dignity?  In pride?  Probably depends on the day.  In any case, hiding from the world isn’t as much of an option here.  Authenticity is the name of the game even when you’d prefer to stop playing.  But here’s the super cool thing: people here care and they meet you where you’re at.  So last weekend when my leg just would not work, I discovered over the next few days that all my responsibilities had been cancelled/taken care of without me even knowing it.  No one talked to me directly, but someone called the radio and cancelled Sunday School.  The little girl I have been taking care of in the afternoons just didn’t come on Monday and when I texted her mom she just said, “I heard you weren’t feeling well.”  Everyone here sees each other’s positives, negatives, needs, and all the in-between and they respond accordingly.  This is the beauty of the fishbowl life.

Read the full article at thewindsorsupnorth.com)