Friday, November 28, 2008
Reflecting upon the sense of community I often feel at the Bridge homeless assistance center in the Second Chance Cafe, I came across the following. There can scarcely be a more displaced group than the homeless community, and yet so often it feels like family to me, even when, like this evening, there are so many new, unfamiliar faces which come through the food line. KS
“The word community generally expresses a certain supportive and nurturing way of living and working together…. If we want to reflect on community in the context of compassion, we must go far beyond these spontaneous associations [of sentimentalism, romanticism, and even melancholy]. Community can never be the place where God’s obedient servanthood reveals itself if community is understood principally as something warm, soft, homey, comfortable, or protective. When we form community primarily to heal personal wounds, it cannot become the place where we effectively realize solidarity with other people’s pains….
The call to community as we hear it from our Lord is the call to move away from the ordinary and proper places…. The Gospels confront us with this persistent voice inviting us to move away from where it is comfortable, from where we want to stay, from where we feel at home….
Why is this so central? It is central because in voluntary displacement, we cast off the illusion of ‘having it together’ and thus begin to experience our true condition, which is that we, like everyone else, are pilgrims on the way, sinners in need of grace. [Thus] we counteract the tendency to become settled in false comfort and to forget the fundamentally unsettled position that we share with all people…. [which] leads us to the existential recognition of our inner brokenness and thus brings us to a deeper solidarity with the brokenness of our fellow human beings…. The Greek word for church, ekklesia — from ek = out, and kaleo = call — indicates that as a Christian community we are people who together are called out of our familiar places to unknown territories, out of our ordinary and proper places to the places where people hurt and where we can experience with them our common human brokenness and our common need for healing.”
~~Compassion, A Reflection on the Christian Life, by Henri J.M. Nouwen, Donald P. McNeill, and Douglas A. Morrison