Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Strengthening links

When our communities start to fail perhaps the first piece of advice we should give is - talk, truly and truthfully as much as you can to everyone - and listen with your ears, eyes, head, heart and soul.

It must be quite difficult in larger congregations to actually have a word with everybody. I struggle and sometimes it's only 20 of us. When I have energy I try to talk with those that I don't usually talk with but when I am tired I tend to stick with those with whom I feel an easy comfort. We do tend to gravitate towards certain people because of shared interests or complementary personalities.

It is at certain times that we are challenged to live as a community not just as a series of sub-groups. There are simple tests .... Do we know what food preferences everyone has? Who usually has tea and who has coffee? Who has milk and who has sugar? Then there are other little tests - How old are people? When is their birthday? Where do people live? Who do they live with? Do they have a car? What work do they/did they do? Or what about ... Who believes in God? Who is a humanist? Who is an agnostic? Who was born into a Catholic/Atheist/Jewish family?

When I am tired but committed to connecting then I go armed with a few questions to find things out about my fellow travellers. I want to understand them more, to put their current life in a bit of a context. I offer up information about myself as best as I can. Sometimes it can seem like a brief encounter, each Sunday in community with people who perhaps we barely know.

A community is only as strong as its weakest link. We need to work in strengthening those links.

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