The potential blessings in our communities are untapped resources. How much could we offer that we have yet to discover ourselves?
I have been musing over the difference between religious community and humanism as the local humanists group will be renting our social room once a week. To some extent some humanists are more concerned with 'theology' than we are. Perhaps it's just us in Newcastle-under-Lyme or perhaps it is a wider phenomenon. It is this development of community spirit that we focus on. Sure we share a belief in something bigger than ourselves but that doesn't have to be god, God or gods. The majority of our effort and attention is in knowing each other, having concern for each other and actively loving each other. It is this commitment to love which moves me.
Rather than talking about god loving us it is about us loving us, and us loving each other: not in some soft and fluffy, warm fuzzy way but in concrete and dynamic ways. Once I struggled to know what my life's purpose was. Having sussed that I struggled with the question 'Why religious community?' Now I know that it is about actively loving people who are not in the first instance family or friends but people who I share a physical space with for an hour or two, twice a month. This involves, at times, effort when I don't want to give it, patience when I feel impatient, a listening ear when I would rather be day-dreaming, and presence when I would rather be absent. It is in the hard-work and effort that the growth emerges, where grace may be found. It is a commitment to see religious community as something to invest in rather than a place to capitalise on. I don't just go to the Meeting House for me but for you. It is here that the Rastafarian concept of 'I and I' seems so relevant.
In doing this we discover so much about ourselves about our strengths and our weaknesses, our deep wounds and our surface scratches, our need for connection and our need for separateness. Being in religious community is not selfless but none the worse for that. It can be, if you let it and if you have soulmates with you, a real roller coaster of extremes - sadness and joy, discovery and loss, exhaustion and exhilaration. And sometimes it's just very ordinary. And in that ordinariness we can see how natural it is for us to be a part of this blessed whole.
We realise how comfortable we are with our place within this community and know that everything is as it should be.