Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Longings



The lyrics from the song "I am a Rock" by Simon and Garfunkel float endless through my mind these days as I gaze out the window of my office. "I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries."

I have had at least 3 encounters over this past month with people who are longing for deep and meaningful relationships in their lives. I hear conversation after conversation and read post after post on facebook that lead me to believe that there are a lot of lonely people out there, and I wonder what I can do to help others find the happiness they seek.

A few weeks back I got in my car early one morning and drove to Jasper as I drove, I listened to my i pod and pondered life. As each new song came on I found myself being transported to a different moment in my life. I realized after a time that I had been laughing and smiling to myself and I felt the stress of September slowly leaving my body. As I crested Obed point (the highest point on the Yellowhead Highway) I had a vision, an epiphany, a moment of inspiration. I realized that all the memories had a common theme, each memory included other people and specifically people that I had been living in intentional community with. For many of us the only time we have experienced this if at all is with our immediate family.
When we live in intentional community there are expectations that there will be times when we all gather together to eat, to celebrate inportant life transitions, to check-in with each other, to resolve conflicts, to share in our joys and sorrows with each other, to challenge behaviours that are destructive to the community sense of well being and often these intentional living communities include spiritual practices, worship or sacred rituals. Each living situation will be different but they will include a number of these characteristics. I have experienced 5 different types of intentional living in my life: my family growing up, an anglican retreat center, camp, dorms at university, and a hostel in Belarus.

The benefit to living in community is that there is always someone to be with, the downside is that it is hard to find your own space. You experience great love and acceptance and you deal with conflict and personality differences. It is in these communities that I have discovered who I am, it is in these communities that I have engaged in deep and meaningful conversations, it is in these communities that I searched for purpose and meaning in my life. Through them all I found support, acceptance and belonging and I was able to be myself.

The church is the only other place that I have come to experience this. I think that church can provide us with the same opportunities if we create space in our lives to engage in all that a church has to offer. It does take longer to establish the relationships when you aren't living together, but if you take the time to engage in more then just Sunday morning it is well worth it. TRUST ME!!

These days I think it is becoming rare that people sit down for a Sunday dinner every week with extended family. Sometimes it is because our family live too far away, sometimes it is because someone in the family works, often our families have split up or changed. As I talked with people about their plans for Thanksgiving this year I was surprised to know how many people were not doing anything. I was surprised to hear some seniors lament that even though they eat dinner in a dining room with other seniors it feels as though they are eating alone. This left me perplexed, but inspired...

I wonder what would happen if the churches used some of their land to redevelop their space, to become intentional living communities with mixed generations? What if this intentional living community had a community garden, community child care, community dinners 2 or 3 times a week. How wonderful would it be as young parents to have people to consult with about the raising of children? How wonderful would it be to have a surragate grandparent to talk with a youth about what is happening in their life? How wonderful would it be to have people to share your stories with, to sing with, to dance with, to create with, to play with and to pray with on a daily basis?

I wonder what it would be like if the church began to build bridges between the rocks that we have become, between our islands?
Psalm 40: 1-3
I waited patiently for God, who inclined to me and heard my cry.
God drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
God put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in God.
This is my song for you today, trust in God my friends and you will find fulfillment and love. -- Written by Karen Bridges

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