Encouragement for the Journey
Greetings Fellow Traveller,
For the past six weeks I have been working on a DIY project. I will spare you the details, but, it requires lots of energy and commitment to achieve the required results. While working on it earlier this week, I allowed my imagination to wander and I thought what would it be like to be a professional builder? All kinds of images flooded into my awareness and I admit I prefer my current role in ministry. Someone has suggested that what I am is a builder, namely a community builder, a person who along with others builds a faith community.
This metaphor of building a community is a popular term, but, I prefer the metaphor of a community emerging, rather than building a community, that is too mechanical for me, we people are not pieces of wood that can be cut, shaped and nailed together.
Community means different things to be different people; one such description will never fulfil the varieties and functions of community. We know when we are part of one and when we feel estranged from a community. Community is one of those buzz words, of our 21st Century Western Society. Why? Because deep within our DNA, there is an inherent desire to belong with others on the journey. This lies deep within our human spirit and makes its presence felt for example in times of disaster and suffering drawing out of us compassion, generosity and caring. This was evident by those who went through the Canterbury earthquakes and continue to experience living with aftershocks.
The great religious traditions seem to agree there is a spiritual weave that draws humanity together, forming community. It becomes visible; emerging from that which was once previously invisible, to becoming alive and tangible.
If we talk about building community, we are doing injustice to what is already present; I suggest we recognise what is all ready emerging within our inter-dependent and inter-connected world; we may describe this as webs of belonging.
I like many things about being in community, but I prize one aspect over all, no one person has their own way. There are always others to be considered and accommodated, so the community grows and develops as we teach each other to care, practice compassion and to seek justice. This happens within the Divine Mystery we name as God, at whose loving heart is the mystery of community. I offer this quote from Henri Nouwen for your journey:
‘Community is first and foremost a gift of the Holy Spirit, not built upon mutual compatibility, shared affection, or common interests but upon having received the same divine breath, having been given a heart set aflame by the same divine fire, and having been embraced by the same divine love.’
Meanwhile Peace in the Dignity of Difference