i thought i knew a thing or two about community

Here are some random thoughts in no particular order about community.

Wikipedia now has an interesting article on the many splendored word community.

Last year I thought I knew enough about the word to want to write about it and talk about it. I spent a lot of time discussing it. A lot of time writing about my experiences in a number of articles that will never see the light of day. I had plans to publish these in a communal studies journal. I went so far as to begin an editorial process with another writer outside JPUSA and then I went through this period of doubt and scrapped the whole thing. They still sit on my laptop, perhaps one day I’ll dust them off.

I thought I knew a thing or two about community. I would pull out the words “I’ve never not known life in community” like it was a badge of honor, something that made me really different. But lately I’ve come to realize that I’m a human being on planet earth among many others with all the same particular needs and emotions and fears as anyone else. Any historical significance I assign to my story and assume has merit really only has merit to me.

I think at this point that I want to see life among all those who appreciate life right now rather than through some “meaning” rubric. I want to just work with my hands, eat my food, enjoy the presence of my coworkers and my wife and children, and then just leave the rest up to God. I don’t know why my life turned out like this. That whole “sacrifice your life for your pet project: your book, your company, your pet project, whatever” and if you work hard enough you may just win the lotto of the world’s attention is so annoying to me now. It’s God’s will that I be satisfied with the love of my family and closest friends.

I’ll never be the guy people feel drawn to for understanding community. No matter how long I ever live in it I feel like every day is some new beginning. People are so multidimensional. The way we interact is so simple and yet so different. I want to know everyone, be close to everyone, overcome every obstacle, bridge every gap, utilize all energy, solve every problem. But I often can’t just bring myself to say “Hi.”

One true thing—standing on the outside to observe only leaves me detached and full of the kind of wonder that seeks to devour the subject whole.

Intercessory Prayer, that action of willingness and dependence at the same time, is the only gift that makes community possible.

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1 Comment

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One response to “i thought i knew a thing or two about community

  1. Nathan

    Chris — boy, this hits home. I’ve been a “sacrifice your life for your pet project” kind of guy for ages now. It’s in me deep. And at the core of it, like you say, is my inner Lotto Junkie, hoping for … I don’t know … significance. Ten years ago, I used to worry that by the time I was 29 (it’s not lost on me that now I’m thirty), if I hadn’t broke that “lotto of the world’s attention” — if I learned that life, or at least my life, wouldn’t work like that — I’d go nuts.

    Given that, I should be downright loony by now (If I am, don’t tell me). But I’m far more content than I once thought I even COULD be, just to be married to Jen, walking the dogs, working for your old man, and doing some occasional writing on the side. I still get flares of the Lotto Bug, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not as life-swallowing as they once were. In my case, God has shown his grace not by fulfilling, but humbling, my Great Big Dreams of Fame and Grandeur.

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