Just last night, a friend and I were reading about Dr. Patch Adams and his vision for a hospital built around the concept of life-giving friendships and community. In his presentation HERE, he mentions that most adults are unhappy with their lives, and suggests that a significant cure for what ails the human population might be intimacy and friendship.
This idea of healing community is one I have thought about a lot lately. In a nation where we value independence and material possessions over intimacy and vulnerability, is it any wonder our country is so divided? We spend more time in conversation ABOUT people, as if they are political "issues" to be solved, than in actually KNOWING people. Myself included.
My friend Rebecca* has taught me so much about community. I started spending time with her soon after she moved to town. She needed a ride to the store, so I picked her and her sweet little ones up and gave them a ride. One ride turned into another, and then another the next week. These "rides" have quickly become a ritual I look forward to every week. You see, she needed a ride, but I have gained a friend. Every week we laugh together, marveling over the silly antics of her kids and noticing how quickly they are changing and growing. She teaches me about the challenges of being a single mom, and I share stories from my childhood. She constantly amazes me with the way she fights for her little family. She is one of the strongest women I know, and I am starting to treasure our moments together.
Rebecca has taught me about the necessity of community. In offering a ride, I gained a friend. We learned how to need each other. We need the opportunity to learn from the other and to grow together. We need a chance to build common experiences that will give us understanding and grace for the moments when we disagree or find we come from vastly different cultures. And is it any wonder? You and I were created for relationship. Relationship with each other and relationship with the God of the universe. Remember? "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for man to be alone'" (Genesis 2:18).
What would our community look like if we responded to needs with relationships? If we invited people to our tables and into our lives instead of dropping off food at the closest food pantry?
How would my life be enriched if I intentionally built friendships with the very people I don't understand?
How would our faith communities be enriched if we took church to the unchurched instead of expecting the unchurched to come and "fit in" among us?
What would my neighborhood look like if I was vulnerable with my neighbors, sharing the joys and hardships of life instead of just a terse "hello!" as I rush back inside and lock my door?