When I first arrived at Dry Bones, I felt hopeful and energetic, excited to live the kind of life I had long wanted to live—one with purpose and depth, one in which I felt like I was actually doing something in the community. I had spent nearly my whole life in school, writing paper after paper and reading book after book about people who had done something. I admit I had a bit of a savior complex at first, but I eventually realized that wanting to do something in the world wasn’t an inherently evil desire. I realized that it mattered what I understood “doing something” to mean.
In school, “doing something” usually meant achieving something tangible, getting an A on a paper, making the Dean’s list. In other arenas of life, “doing something” involved other forms of earning or striving, other ways of proving that I was capable, competent, somehow impressive. Building community at Dry Bones often didn’t feel like “doing something” in the beginning. We weren’t providing affordable housing; we weren’t solving houselessness. Relationship alone wasn’t going to alleviate our friends’ pain and wouldn’t get them a safe place to live. At times I felt disappointed, as if my anticipation for living a kind of life I had wanted to live had been in vain.
When I reminded myself, however, that Dry Bones’ mission isn’t to solve houselessness but to provide supportive community for those who find themselves in the midst of it, I began to realize that I had entangled the notion of “doing something” with “doing everything.” True, we don’t provide affordable housing or solve houselessness, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing anything. The relationships we have the privilege of participating in remind people of their worth and value. That indeed is doing something.
Furthermore, I began to realize that I had entangled “doing something” with “doing something to which a value rating can be ascribed.” We can’t measure the success of the community we participate in through systems that ascribe value to work of a different kind. We can’t give our community an A, B, or C grade, and we can’t prove that our community is valuable based on the amount of money it generates.
As I prepare to leave Dry Bones for a new job opportunity, I am immensely grateful that I was able to come here and do something for over three years. I am grateful that the things Dry Bones does have challenged me to both give and receive, to teach and to learn, to love and be loved. I can now look back on my pre-Dry Bones life and realize that all along I have been doing something. We are all always doing something. We are all moving through the world with and among people in ways that impact the community around us. I can now open myself to the mysterious movement of the Creator and embrace the reality that I will always be doing something, regardless of what that something looks like. I can now celebrate that there are an infinite number of doings that contain depth and purpose.