some thoughts about community

I had the privilege of spending the weekend with Centennial House this week. It was life-giving experience for both my wife and I. Since I live in Denver, I am fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time with St Columba House. I got to orient them to Denver when they arrived, and I spend every Friday with them for their Formation time. Since Steamboat Springs is a three-hour drive away, I don’t have that same experience with the fine women of Centennial House. Being able to come up, stay with them, and spend their Formation time together was a rare treat. It made me wish I got to do it more often, and as we drove away I noticed some sadness. I felt a sense of loss- I was leaving half my community behind.

Harlowe, Brittany, Georgi, my wife and me (I’m the one in the back with the blurry face and really short hair).

In our conversations this weekend, we talked about what being in a community as the Colorado Episcopal Service Corps really means. Our Corps members come to live in community with one another, but we are also building a community across the whole program. This can be tough. Though being in community is immensely rewarding, it is also challenging. How do we live in community, when we don’t see each other every day, and our experiences are so different?

For us, our community is anchored in our shared goals and values: transforming individuals and growing courageous communities through prayer and action. We have come together in order to be a community together, and this intention grounds us. We can work through conflict, difference, and distance because we are grounded in this way. We are a community.

If this is all sounding familiar, it is because it is as relevant to the Church at large as it is to Colorado Episcopal Service Corps. That feeling I had, when I was driving away from Catie, Georgi, Brittany, Harlowe, and the town of Steamboat Springs, points me to something bigger: to the hunger we feel to be connected beyond the boundaries of our immediate surroundings. Sorrow at parting is inseparable from the joy of engaging, meaningful relationships. As members of the Body of Christ, we know that we are part of one another, joined by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it can be difficult to feel the unity of the Body of Christ when the differences in theology, politics, and the way we worship are the focus. It can be too easy to look back to the early days of the faith, when we imagine that the problems we have today didn’t exist. However, we too can come together as a community, because we are anchored in something fundamental, no matter our differences. We are all members of the Body of Christ. As we say in one of our Liturgies of the Table, “We who are many are one Body,  for we all share in the one bread.”

-Tory

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