There is a fair amount of confusion as to who we are here at Flatlanders Inn (or as I heard the other day “Flatliners Inn” – I sure hope not!). When someone asks what on earth Flatlander’s Inn is, I rattle off a definition to bore the soul, throwing in fancy words like ‘transitional housing’ and ‘intentional community’ – as if they add much clarity to the situation. I am starting to wonder if this definition truly does any good to capture who we are, but I guess we have to start somewhere right? And often in this elevator pitch, if I have truly caught the person’s attention and they ask why people come to live with us, I will say that some who are at risk of homelessness come for transitional housing and some come to create community.
But hold on: this is not a whole truth, and I am not much of a fan of dichotomies anyway. Those of us who move our lives into Flatlanders inevitably get hit with both transition and community, no matter our intention. Both community and transition all mingled under one roof. It’s tricky like that. To steal from the great articulator of emotions, Anne Lamott, “Yikes and wow”.
Out of an attempt to convey the truth and to use less words, I would smoosh those explanations together to call Flatlanders a Transitional Home.
Home: “a place where we become who we are”, and transition: “a season of growth, of change, of moving from one to another” (in my opinion, loosely defined as “yuck”. Kidding. Well sort of.)
Here’s the thing: I don’t love transition. Most days I stubbornly avoid it. I used to think it was a “me thing” to not like change (that or growing up Baptist!), but I have come to realize that it’s a “human thing”. Yet we hurdle towards and through change from day one. I repeat, “Yikes and wow”.
When I first moved into Flatlanders, I came with a position for myself in mind. I was to be an “intern”, I was to learn, maybe to help, to support those who were “transitional members”. I think some of this happened, but it all came with a side order of change. I came into a new city, a new neighbourhood, a new home filled with new people, and a whole bunch of new experiences. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I, too, was a “transitional member”.
No matter who we are on this earth, we are changing and shifting. It can be hard, confusing, lonely, exciting, and frustrating. Flatlanders Inn offers community in times of change. Some of us move in, and it is not our choice to be in this place in life. Maybe we would rather be anywhere but at this stage. But somehow, we are together and here for each other.
During my time here, I have lived life. I have lost family, friends, jobs, and my keys more than once. I have also gained family, friends, jobs, and a new set of keys, all the while surrounded by these people I call home. We are an odd bunch, and changing often. What has been consistent, however, is that I have been accepted and loved no matter what stage of transition I was at.
I am coming up on another transition soon. Although Flatlanders has been my home for almost 7 years, it is time to move on to another home, and I will be moving out of Flatlanders this summer. I have learned so much about community, my neighbourhood, God in all Her mysteries, myself, and the Winnipeg Jets. Flatlanders has forced me into transition and given me the strength to walk through transitions to come. I am forever marked by the lives that collided with mine and I couldn’t be more grateful for the ways they have shaped me.
I have been told reflecting is a good practice, so as I begin to reflect, I have been thinking about monkey bars. You remember those? I was never much good at them, but I remember that you couldn’t get anywhere unless you swing yourself forward. You had to let go of one bar and reach for the other. Flatlanders has been my roots as I have grown, but it is time to do the scary thing and let go of this place and reach for another. The thing is though, I don’t think I will ever let go of the love. Or perhaps, the love will not let go of me.
Here’s to breathing through the letting go AND the reaching for. Here’s to transition.
Laura has lived at Flatlander’s Inn for 6 and a half years and has been a part of the Leadership Team for the past 4 years. Her influences stem from a variety of communities throughout her life. Laura believes strongly in the impact of connection and that small conversations can lead to large transition in one’s life. Laura is most definitely not a morning person and is known for the large, rapid limb movement she calls dancing, fresh baked bread, and leaving her clothes in the washer.