Loving in the Light: A Couple’s Experience at BHFH

                         Loving in the Light:  A Couple’s Experience at BHFH

by Michael Lee Photography

2013 marked a wonderful event for BHFH residents Ben Lawent and Rachel Gross: They were married! Their story is an affirming account of the nurturing environment to be found in intentional living communities (ILCs) in general and BHFH in particular.

Ben and Rachel are confirmed proponents of intentional living communities. Ben started as an undergraduate at University of Wisconsin whose city of Madison he describes as a hotbed of ILCs. His roommate decided to join one and after hearing about his friends experience and learning more he decided to follow suit. Rachel also found an ILC in her college years, spending the summer in an ILC oriented around a Jewish farming program. The shared values each of them found among the residents, social progressiveness for Ben, Judaism and environmental concerns for Rachel, added a rich element to their lives that shapes their choice of residential living to this day.

Ben and Rachel are an example of how love can spring within an ILC, as they first met when both came to reside at the MOSAIC (Members of Society Acting in Cooperation) Co-op in Evanston, IL. Sharing meals and weekly house meetings offered them a chance to know one another in a natural, co-operative environment (Author’s note: I am reminded of the Friends’ saying “To know a Quaker work with one.”). House activities blossomed into socializing, then dates, and the rest is history!

When Ben moved to Boston he knew he would choose an ILC and an internet search turned up BHFH. The social values he recognized as well as the diverse, relatively large community of 22 residents attracted him to BHFH and when Rachel arrived in Boston to pursue a Master’s degree in accounting he convinced her to join him. While they came to BHFH for the social values and commitment to ILC, they learned about Quaker values and the edifying effects of Quaker process in House meetings run in a Quaker fashion, deepening their community experience. This year Ben, who has some Quaker relatives, presented “The Abolitionist Legacy in Modern America”, a book salon linking the rich Quaker tradition of social action to issues we face in the contemporary world, and wrote an article for our newsletter on the importance of charitable giving using The Life You Can Save by Princeton University bioethics professor Peter Singer as a backdrop. Recognizing that communities depend upon the active involvement of their members, Ben and Rachel are on the BHFH Finance and Development Committees respectively. While they are a couple they believe in letting their individual lights shine through their activities and independent voices in House meetings, although sometimes that takes work: Ben and Rachel recounted a House meeting where they and other couples did not sit next to their respective partners, only to have the group separate into smaller work sessions by counting off which put the couples back together! Ben and Rachel also do not take “work” home with them and try not to talk about House committee issues in their private lives.

There are four couples currently residing at BHFH, and we are fortunate to have them within our community. They enrich our residential experience through their relationship and as individuals, and we look forward to Ben and Rachel and our other couples maintaining their relationship with BHFH when the time comes for them to be House alums. If you were a couple living at BHFH in the past and would like to recount your time here and how it may have affected your life afterwards please leave us a comment below or email us at news@bhfh.org!