When we left the traditional church setting in the fall of 2000, one of our complaints was that community only happened around task. In retrospect, it seems both true and natural. Community is a by product of something else, and when it is an end in itself it tends to implode. It becomes incestuous. Communities form naturally around shared purpose and shared task. The more clear and intentional the purpose, the stronger the community tends to be. The challenge, then, in forming communities is to help them to maintain an inward life even as they work at whatever purpose they are called toward, as they move to incarnate their purpose. Jean Vanier is right that,
“The more we become people of action and responsibility in our community, the more we must become people of contemplation. If we do not nurture our deep emotional life in prayer hidden in God, if we do not spend time in silence and if we do not know how to take time from the presence of our brothers and sisters, we risk becoming embittered. It is only to the extent that we nurture our own hearts that we can keep interior freedom. People who are hyperactive, fleeing from their deep selves and their wound, become tyrannical and their exercise of responsibility only creates conflict.”
Community and Growth
I am experiencing the loss of strength of vision with age, and I visited the optometrist yesterday for an updated prescription. Common enough. But I was struck that as time passes and my physical vision grows weaker, my inner vision grows more clear. It becomes both easier and more natural to look “not at the things which are seen, but the things which are unseen.” At times it feels a little gnostic.. but then I recall that phrase from Paul, and I realize that what may sometimes appear dualistic is really the embodiment of a paradox.