Saturday, November 03, 2007

Community

Reading Jean Vanier's Community and Growth this morning, the following quotation jumped out at me:
"Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. But the reverse is also true, let him who is not in community beware of being alone."
The quote is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together, published in 1976.

It jumped out at me because I remember writing something similar during my walk across the country. Then I said that walking alone for days teaches someone who is independent about his need for others, and that it teaches he who is overly needy of others something of his own independence.

Vanier prefaces a different quotation from someone named Therese by writing, "the availability of some single people could be a mysterious commitment."

Therese's writing was this prayer:
We who are not committed to you Jesus, in either a consecrated celibacy or marriage, we who are not committed to our brothers in a community, are coming to renew our covenant with you.

We are still on the road to which you have called us, but whose name you haven't given us; we are carrying the poverty of not knowing where you are leading us.

On this road, there is the pain of not being chosen, not being loved, not being waited for, not being touched. There is the pain of not choosing, not loving, not waiting, not touching. We don't belong. Our house is not a home; we have nowhere to lay our head.

Even though we have become impatient and depressed when faced with the choice of others, unhappy when faced with their efficiency, we still say "yes" to our road. We believe that it is the road of our fecundity, the road we must take to grow in you.

Because our hearts are poor and empty, they are available. We make them a place of welcome for our brothers. Because our hearts are poor and empty, they are wounded. We let the cry of our thirst rise to you.
That prayer feels right to me. I relate especially to the middle paragraph. Therese closes the prayer by thanking God for this road. That feels right, too.

1 comment:

John said...

I went crazy in NH. I had fear of always being alone, was repetitively rejected, and didn't recognize the opportunities that did present themselves. I found strength in a relationship with a higher power, friends, and concentrating on core things such as staying alive and staying sober.

I think my issues were much more than simply seeking companionship or sex. But neither should be minimized either. It is very important to be touched, to feel loved, etc.

When I finally moved to Boston I had more opportunity to have meaningful relationships. It was still hard, and there was still a lot of rejection, and many late nights with extremely negative thoughts, walking home alone.

I actually met Mark through Yahoo personals. Boston is provincial and tough dating ground. NY and San Francisco are much more conducive to being human. And online resources are of course great.

I don't think we can minimize our need for sex either.

I do remember that when I was in NH, that this lack of interest from others, companionship, etc. permeated all of my thoughts, feelings, and interfered with my ability to do anything. I even have a friend in NH now who is having the same problem. He's stayed in a town where there are no options for a gay man of his age.

I would say to never underestimate the options out there, and also to not rely on them coming to you.