Tuesday, January 27, 2009
This is another journal entry in response to some reading I am doing for my Christian Spirituality course.
Of the four essential disciplines that Rolheiser mentions in chapter three, the one that appeals to me most is also the one that challenges me the most. The first "pillar," private prayer and personal morality, has been an integral part of me for pretty much my entire life and though these healthy habits are not always easy, there is a consistency and rhythm in that area that comes from long practise. The second, social justice, is something that, though definitely of great importance, does not tug at my heart strongly. As to the third item, mellowness of heart and spirit, most days I am grateful and not prone to anger or malice or anxiety.
However, the fourth discipline, community life, can be quite a challenge, especially for an introvert. My favourite sentence in this whole chapter comes from page 69: "Schleiermacher pointed out that, separate from historical religion, namely, the churches with all their faults, the individual in quest of God, however sincere that search, lives the unconfronted life." (Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing, 69)
I find it easier to be right than wrong. I find it easier to hang with good friends of like interests than make an effort to include the people on the fringe. I find it easier to sit at home and read a book than to call a friend who needs help and encouragement. I find it easier to see the shortcomings of others than to take a good, hard look at where I treat others with injustice or a lack of kindness. I find it easier to deal with my inadequacies and issues myself than to live and learn my life lessons in a community setting. Me and Jesus have a pretty good thing going, and sometimes I find it bothersome to include others in that equation - it just gets too messy.
But in some inexplicable way, I have come to love this unlikely community that I find myself a part of at Vineyard Montreal. More than just a group of people from various countries and walks of life, these human beings have become my family. Some I love so hard that it hurts to be apart from them. Some I find annoying and immature at times (like a younger sibling), but I still want to keep them close. Some get angry at me and say hurtful things, but there is always a place for them in my life and in the group. We listen to each other. We ask each other hard questions. We go to each other's homes. We eat and drink and pray and play together. We celebrate birthdays, holidays and achievements together, and we commiserate over bad days at work, exams, and relationship disappointments together.
I do not want an unconfronted life, comfortable as it may be. I believe I would find it altogether boring and dissatisfying. Having been a witness to and a participant in the beauty of personal metamorphosis, I would not trade one day of itchy, ill-fitting, chafing community life for the static monotone of a carefully constructed and self-controlled environment. Community life is messy, but growing, changing things usually are. I believe that this seedling desire to be part of a vibrant group of people that live with their lives touching each other is one of the greatest gifts I have received in Montreal.
This is a picture of Montreal taken last summer - lot of green stuff growing.