Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Community: Tuesday's Reflection

Sunday mornings we go to church. We go to church willingly,
A Sunday Morning Celebration at Gloria Dei
eagerly, and we come home feeling filled and inspired and richly blessed. And connected.

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. 

Here's what Debra K Farrington says in her book, Living Faith Day by Day, How the Sacred Rules of Monastic Traditions Can Help You Live Spiritually in the Modern World:

           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.

An Invitation
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

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