I’ve had sites bookmarked for a month now and empty promises and half finished thoughts. I’ve read a book and even experienced some of that play out. It is time to write this post or to put something down so I can stop pretending I’ve forgotten about it.
I am a HUGE fan of community. When it works. When it exists in a psuedo state, I’m no fan at all. It’s probably safe to say we all want close relationships or some idealised fashion of the sort, even if it only plays out in our head.
So of the collection of ‘data’ that I’ve picked up over the last while, and to make this happen I’ll present it and perhaps throw in a few thoughts of my own.
So, from the community minded book: The Different Drum: Community Making and World Peace by M. Scott Peck.
“If we are going to use the word (community) more meaningfully we must restrict it to a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to “rejoice together, mourn together,” and to “delight in eachother, make other’ conditions out own.” – (Peck,p59)
The book then also goes on to talk about inclusivity, commitment and consensus.
I’ve journied a fair bit in around and through community that exists for the long term, the short term and that which is simply intensified in a night (pick a camp experience, most of you have had them).
Out of curiousity and finally having a search function that works – some of my past posts and thoughts on community have said much of what I’ve wanted to say already.
“When its death has been completed, open and empty, the group enters community. In this final stage a soft quietness descends. It is a kind of peace. The room is bathed in peace. Then, quietly, a member begins to talk about herself. She is being very vulnerable. She is speaking of the deepest part of herself. The group hangs on each word. No one realised she was capable of such eloquence.
When she is finished there is a hush. It goes on a long time. But it does not seem long. There is no uneasiness in this silence. Slowly out of the silence, another member begins to talk. He too is speaking very deeply, very personally, about himself. He is not trying to respond to her. It’s not about she but he who is the subject. Yet the other members of the group do not sense he has ignored her. What they feel is that it is as if he is laying himself down next to her on an altar…
…If it is so channeled, life in community may touch upon something perhaps even deeper than joy. There are a few who repeatedly seek out brief experiences of community as if such episodes were some sort of ‘fix’. This is not to be decried. We all need ‘fixes’ of joy in our lives. But what repeatedly draws me into community is something more. When I am with a group of human beings commited to hanging in there through both the agony and the joy of community, I have a dim sense that I am participating in a phenomenon for which there is only one word. I almost hesitate to use it. The word is “glory”.” -M Scott Peck
I’ve had the parallel experience to the above. It is beyond astounding. At the moment I am trying to see and perhaps in my own underhand kind of way, drive (a little) and be a part of a community where this is an on going thing. Intensity is marvellous, but you can’t live that way or it becomes ordinary.
I have the joy (perhaps?) of being in a group where it is becoming more and more tangible to live out community realistically. Yes, it’s on and off. We do ‘forget’ about each other a little and sometime ignore it throught the week, we could push for more openness but it’s pretty decent.
A friend of mine describes it thus,
“I’m just a genuine, affectionate, and engaging human being (on a good day). I connect with people (again on a good day… somedays I must hurt people heaps coz I miss it). It doesn’t take much more than sincerity and kindness to make an impact on someone emotionally. All of us have our pain and our loneliness… and anything that distracts us from that is appealing.”
Which leads me to the next quote I earmarked,
“Let us, at all times, take each the burden of the other, and let us suffer for each other even as our Lord suffered for us; but let us examine our souls unceasingly.”
The Paradise of the Fathers.
I have noticed, it might be pretty simplistic. But if a friend is in some way ‘suffering’, having a crap day, month, era – then the impact upon me is a good guage personally about how valuable they are to me. Selfish – yes, pathetic – most certainly. There are lines you have to draw about how emotionally involved you get with someones ‘issues’, which is why I like the latter part of the quote. But the whole deal is pretty self explanatory this is something that should – without even us trying, play out in a community.
And to finish of this very very scattered post,
“Congregations should not be viewed as a group of people who gather together for an hour or two each week. Rather, he says, they should be viewed as a federation of teams – people who support and encourage one another as they live out their faith commitment and minister to the people they are in contact with…ministry and mission flow out of relationships.” (Leadership Next 37)
Church and community should parallel – infact, be one and the same. Size determines a lot, but effective close relationships across a wider spectrum is definitely possible. I don’t think we should restrict our ideas of community to say, ‘just my young adults group’. A peer-only society doesn’t exist. It’s working out how to break a few links on this far simpler method of like being drawn to like. How that eventuates, I’m not quite sure.