Our theme for worship and small groups this month (October 2016) is “Community,” something we hear and speak of often, but what exactly do we mean? You can live in a large condo complex, nod and smile at your neighbors, talk to people at the pool, but that’s more like the parallel play of toddlers. But if there’s a crisis—someone’s locked out, or a pet goes missing, or a single parent gets the flu, we cross lines to help each other. We’re more engaged, more caring, and afterward sometimes we have not only a greater sense of connection, but also a better sense of well-being. And sometimes we also have more fun.
In the fellowship, we have the potential to engage one another with knowledge of the reality of our interdependence. For Richard Rohr the phrase, “Everything belongs,” has become a mantra that opens a door to his lived experience of this truth. “We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness,” Thich Nhat Hanh tells us. This is the reality that lies waiting for us within all meditation practices. Similarly, Joanna Macy tells us that, “Our lives extend beyond our skins, in radical interdependence with the rest of the world.” It's her reason for hope in time of climate crisis.
All these teachers point to the spiritual truth of our interdependence. Our experience of this in relationship with one another has the potential to be richer than our solitary existence, no matter how rich our inner life. Also, this is not a condition that we have to create. It’s something real and true that we can experience, when we find a way past the guardians of our certainty; when we practice simple courtesies and good manners; when we remember that love wants to flow like a river through us each and all. What sages have always taught their students is that when we are in a true community, we find more possibility waiting there than we had ever imagined and often it's a way into the future we would not have discovered on our own.
“The new survival unit is no longer the individual nation; it’s the entire human race and its environment. This newfound oneness is only a rediscovery of an ancient religious truth. Unity is not something we are called to create; it’s something we are called to recognize.” William Sloan Coffin