|A Sunday Morning Celebration at Gloria Dei|
This is my community.
This is where I feel both safe and stretched. Comforted, but also challenged. This is where I go when I need to make sense of physical and emotional violence in the world. This is where I go with tough questions, but this is also a place where love and beauty, and even laughter abound.
For many of our Ohio years and all of our Madison years we didn't commit to a spiritual community, and we grew complacent about that lack in our lives. As an introvert, I focused on deepening my personal spiritual life, spending time in prayer and contemplation, participating in retreats and classes, but a big piece was missing. When we returned to St Paul we knew it was time to live our heritage and our beliefs and reconnect to a spiritual community.
We have landed well.
Being part of a community is part of my "rule of life," even when I haven't lived that way. If the word "rule," by the way, causes you to grind your teeth, consider "way of life." The Rule of St Benedict is probably the most famous guideline for living in religious communities and covers all aspects of life--work, study, care of body, hospitality, care of others, and spiritual community.
When we live within community we give ourselves
the opportunity to learn about the faces of God that
we would not ordinarily see. It is in community that our
image of God is tested and refined, where we are held
accountable for what we believe and how we act, and
ultimately where we meet God in the fullest possible
way...Left to our own devices we will develop a
comfortable spirituality that fails to challenge us.
Perhaps it will be perfectly crafted for our own needs,
but leaves out those of others. More than likely it will
be a weak theology that does not sustain us in times of
deep trouble. Without the community we have little
support when things go wrong in the world; without
having developed the habit of nurturing as well as
challenging others we will be without others to help us
celebrate or mourn the important moments of our lives.
Being in community is one aspect of living and nurturing a spiritual life, of growing closer to the person I was created to be. Rules, Farrington reminds us, are "living documents." They grow and evolve and require attention to one's heart desires.
What is included in your "rule of life?" What role does community play in your spiritual life? I would love to know.
Debra K. Farrington
My spiritual community: Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St Paul