Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Conflux

For a while now, I've been stewing on the ideas of community and sanctification. They seem so unrelated, so at odds. Yet, from a theological perspective the case isn't hard to make that Christians belong in some kind of community of faith. Lately, I'm beginning to see the Darwinian aspects of community and human development. We are born helpless into a family. Give a baby and mother and a father (better yet a mother, father and two sets of grandparents) who love her, and she thrives and grows. But we don't, I'm seeing, progress beyond our need for family.

I've been terribly ill for about a week. In fact, I've been more ill than I have ever been before. Recovering from all of my surgeries was the French Riviera in comparison to trying to recover from this invasion of my body by one angry little bacterium. I was helpless. Helpless to feed myself. Helpless to give my little one a bath. But I have a family. A community. A network of support. And I am sure that the time will come when I take my part to cover and protect a member of my family who finds herself helpless. This is family and it is blessed.

From a spiritual perspective we are dependent on each other to know God. I pause to consider the implications of this notion. I, as quarrelsomely introverted as I am, am dependent on other human beings to know God as He intends. I need to be baptized, take part in the Eucharist, give my confession, pray for and be prayed for.

And the idea of community I'm seeing emerge (and the word "emerge" I select intentionally) is a group of fellow "seekers" who will "sit in the mud" with you as you negotiate life's often painful quotidian complexities. And I guess I can distill some measure of validity from this concept for some people. But I can't seem to get over the danger inherent in inviting the "unwashed masses" of the local church to participate in the sacrament of your own struggle. And by "dangerous" I don't mean exciting and risky, but beneficial. I mean perilous. As in watch out Will Robinson. As in flirting with irreparable harm and schism and woe. And what is the benefit of all this mud-sitting? Did Jesus come to sit in the mud and ruminate with us. Surely, there was some level of condescension in his willingness to clothe himself in flesh. But to what end to we celebrate our frailties and weaknesses when perhaps what we need is a hand up? 

I'm beginning for form a new concept of community for myself. No, that's false. I'm beginning to understand and work out the concept of community embraced and cherished by men and women much wiser than I. I wonder if this engagement with each other is something to consider more carefully. Surely, I have lent ears to fools to my own detriment. Surely the selection of an inner circle must come with prayer and great trepidation. And surely, we should not long allow ourselves to marinate in the excreta of our own repugnant sinfulness in the name of community. I don't think I care to have a community who would condemn me to such a fate and call it benefit. 


brooke said...

well said.

brooke said...

and I hope you feel better soon.

susan said...

Thanks, Brooke. I'm working that idea out for myself.

I'm about 98% today. I finished the antibiotics and am feeling strong. I hope I don't get it again. Yuk.