Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sacred Community


Whatever you may call it, and however it may look to you, I believe that a sacred community is vital to making it through this life.

In fact, for me it's crucial to my very existence. Spending quality time with my sacred community restores my spirit like a nice Venti Passion Tea from Starbucks quenches my thirst on a hot summer day.

I think we all understand the word community. I would define it as the people with whom I surround myself with. This can vary from your work place, your church, your running team (Go, Team Run Your Race!), or a group of young moms.

However, when you add in the word, "sacred," something changes. It kicks things up to another level. And, just so you know, I'm using the " regarded with reverence" definition of sacred.

I'm sure we've all experienced this notion of sacred community.

Maybe you've sat down with a co-worker in the lunch room sharing about your favorite vacation spots, when all of a sudden, you're bonding over shared sorrows or joys.

Perhaps you've met some fellow young moms for coffee and as you share about the trials of poopy diapers and sleepless nights and fears about whether you're doing things right, you realize that you feel intensely connected to these other brave women, and leave with a lighter heart.

And, maybe, it's finding a group of widowers who know what it feels like to come home to an empty home and bed...and while it doesn't completely fill the hole of the relationship you've lost, it makes life more bearable.

Or it might be pushing your body to run mile upon mile with a group of people whom you meet for several hours a week that you sweat, share about life, cry with, and cross finish lines with.

In all of these scenarios, there's one thing in common....it all comes down to those little moments you share...and they're honest, and vulnerable, a little bit ethereal....and because of that....they're sacred.

Can a sacred community sometimes lead to heartache? Definitely. After all, it wouldn't hurt so much if the relationship wasn't so deep and a part of you. Do we say things that are hurtful and are hurtful things said to us? It's guaranteed to happen. Why? Because we're human. We're not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.

However, I would argue that conflict -- which is inevitable -- actually makes a relationship and sacred community even stronger when it's handled in a loving and respectful way. And, when it's not....it's just about the saddest thing you can ever experience....which can lead to a breach...which I've already talked about.

Nonetheless, the amazing joy and fulfillment that I have found within my sacred communities has been worth the risk of being hurt or the loss of relationship. To feel as though a group of people knows who I am, what I'm about (and who I'm working towards becoming), and supports me on that journey, and even better yet, will come alongside to walk it with me...that's a gift. And, it makes it an even richer experience when they invite me to do the same for them.

I've written about how Facebook scratches this itch for a lot of people. Say what you want about the annoyances of the social networking site, but has allowed people to express themselves. And, yes, sometimes it can get us in trouble. But, that's just like life. In "Facebook Land," apologies should be generously given and are sometimes even more necessary when it's easy to type before fully engaging our brain.

But, however helpful the internet may be in allowing people to interact with each other, it won't ever take the place of meaningful face-to-face dialoguing for me. A friend on Facebook can send you their well wishes, but it's not the same as having a friend come visit you in the hospital after you've had emergency surgery....or bring you a hot dinner...or take your kids to the park so you can have some "quiet time,"...or hold your hand at the gravesite service of a loved one...or stop by with a smoothie from Jamba Juice "just because"....these types of blessings cannot be duplicated in cyberland.

Yet I know that any form of connection is a good place to start. I have formed and developed some friendships through the portals of cyberspace. And actually, my husband and I initially fell in love by writing epic emails about our hopes, dreams, thoughts and ambitions. So, don't get me wrong, I actually think that emails, texts and social networking sites have made it possible for me to lovingly tend to the relationships that are important to me...and especially with those who are far away.

I crave connection on a deep visceral level. That's just how I'm wired. It's one of the many things that God created that I completely, utterly and unreservedly "regard with reverence."

4 comments:

Robin Whitford said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Heather,
What a beautiful description of community. It is very hard to articulate why it matters so much, but through my experience, living in community helps me to love God more. Maybe that's why, when Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, He replied that we are to love Him and love others. There is something beautifully sacred about God's design. It challenges us to be more authentic, more loving, and more forgiving ....all of which honor God.
I have been thinking a lot about the communities I have been a part of the several years. I am thankful for the deep roots God has given me. I know that without the people in my life I would not be who I am....you being one of those=). Thank you Lord for your perfect plan!

Robin Whitford said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

PS The facebook link to this post didn't work. Also the link in your post didn't work. Thought you would want to know=)

Austen_gal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks Robin...I'm grateful for your part in my sacred community too. It's been a gift, and I'm thankful that it won't stop just because our proximity will change. You are a dear kindred spirit!

Thanks for letting me know about the link too...I moved the post date-wise, so it messed everything up.

tamara park said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Heather, I'm so grateful to live this life in sacred community with you. I love your fierce and beautiful commitment to it. You encourage, provoke laughter and thought, and invite others to become of their true selves. Gorgeous, my friend, simply gorgeous. Thanks for inviting us to reflect on what we all were designed for. Cheers, Tam