The people make the place and ACE Jacksonville has a lot of sacred spaces for me. When moving to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar folks, we create safe havens together that sustain joy. Take a peak at five places that harbor ACE JAX community life.
1. The Calendar
Every month I get excited to organize the new calendar and add all of our events. Though it seems simple, the calendar keeps everyone in the house together. From community dinner to prayer to monthly mandatory fun, this has it all. My favorite is ACE JAX's mandatory fun. We save a date at the start of the month and one person will choose something for the whole community to do. Highlights include tubing at the local springs, a corn maze, and brunch.
2. The Car
My car has become our unofficial community car for all of those times someone spontaneously decides that a 10 pm Wendy's (or Cheesecake Factory) run is a good idea and somehow convinces everyone else it is too. These trips are often accompanied by a Taylor Swift sing-along thanks to my many CDs, which never fail to bring a smile to my face. The moments of excitement when we embark on an adventure together will be a fond memory of mine every time I get in the car.
3. The Chair
The chair in the living room has become my sacred space in the house over our two years. Rarely am I ever home and not in the chair and even more rare is it that you will find anyone else in the chair. This has been the site of a multitude of laughter and conversation with housemates. We've gathered here after long days to cry about whatever went wrong, laugh about the Tiktoks our students showed us, share our joys from coaching, watch movies, or just sit together planning for the day ahead. The living room is our refuge and is best when filled with friendship.
4. The Dining Room
Food is a great unifier in our house, though if we are not having community dinner we are most definitely not eating the same things. However, I have seen grace overflow abundantly at this table. From my community members adapting to my newfound soy-allergy (seriously thanks JAX because soy is in everything!) to an attempt at Thanksgiving tofurkey for our vegetarian friends (pre-allergy) to impressing the Bishop with homemade flan, we have shared bits of ourselves with one another and adapted to meet one another's needs.
5. The Sunset Spot
In Jacksonville, we are blessed to live on the banks of the beautiful St. Johns River, which runs through the heart of the city. I love when my phone lights up with a message from a housemate, "Beautiful night! Sunset spot anyone?" These nights with community bring me great joy and peace, sitting by the water unwinding from a long day and have helped me appreciate the splendor of God's creation. Not to mention that we've gotten to see more than our fair share of dolphins leaping out of the water seeming to mimic my exact thoughts of, ‚ÄòGosh God you outdid yourself on this one.'
The Jacksonville community has become a family for me during my time in ACE no doubt due to the sacred spaces in which we take refuge to encounter one another.
Learn more about ACE Teaching Fellows at ace.nd.edu/teach