This past week I have been thinking a lot about how individualised we have become; about how little real community we have left. We live with this idea that we have to be able to do everything ourselves, as admitting we need help with some things (never mind actually ASKING for that help!) equals weakness. And because we feel we have to live such independent lives, our days become SO full that we do not have time to reach out to those around us. Which often implies that if you are not: (a) living in the same house as me, (b) working with me, or (c) with me whilst practising the one or two hobbies I can squeeze in; there is no time or room in my life for you. And then we become isolated without even knowing it, tired without it having to be so and unnecessarily overwhelmed. Yes, it’s great to have the say over your life and what happens in it, and it definitely seems like it makes life a whole lot less complicated to not have to constantly involve others…but have we, once again, taken it too far?
“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living” – Rudolf Steiner
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if His love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care – then do me a favour: Agree with each other, love each other, BE DEEP-SPIRITED FRIENDS.” – Philippians 2:1-3
What have we forgotten? What have we lost? The joy to be found in the sharing of the journey; the security of knowing that I am not walking alone; and the peace of companionship. Yes, it also implies having to do more and share more than we have decided we feel comfortable with…for we have indeed become so used to being maverick. But in actual fact we are missing out on so much more! For there is safety in community and there is support…a sense of others helping to carry my load…of love and acceptance in that support. It is not for nothing that we find the following:
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work and share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! … By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12
Going through the initial effort of creating community means that I never again have to worry about somebody having my back – real community equals people who believe in me and care for me so much that they will always defend me, always protect me, always help me to stand when I’m weak and wobbling and always help me to stay me on the path I was meant for. I know we Westerners indoctrinated with individuality don’t think we need all of the above, but how’s that working for you? Especially in difficult times? Times of disappointment, times of stress, times of sadness, times of failure and times of despair? In those times we need community. We need people who will wait with us, cry with us, carry us and help us clean up the mess. We cannot survive alone.
And in that real community, in that living life in all its depth together, is a testimony. It is there that we witness most powerfully to the God we proclaim – the God whose only desire is to be each and every one of us. So let us start a new way. Let us devote the energy. Let us take the risk of opening up more. Let us start purposefully expanding our lives. In that the possibility for joy, support and peace become unending.
“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” – Kurt Vonnegut
“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other.” – John 13:35