The Warm Waters of Community


“The sands of her isolation were eroded in the warm waters of community.”

What a beautiful phrase. Speaks to my heart’s longing for community, and our need, as humans, for community.

Really. I want community. People who don’t mind that I call instead of text, because they have time for me – or will commit to a time and honor it. Hmm.

I want people around me to laugh with me and maybe even give me the gift of laughing AT me (’cuz don’t I need a little more humility?). I want people who will let me do the same with them.

I want people in my life with whom I can share my burdens – and not feel like a needy basketcase or whiny wimp. I need people I can call when I don’t know what to do with my kids, my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law, my brother, or my marginal friends. I need to be able to ask for advice and hear more than platitudes and empty promises to check on me “sometime next week.” If I talk about making a change to better deal with my burdens, I want them to hold my feet to the fire until I actually follow through. And I want people who will share their genuine burdens with me with the same expectations.

I want people with whom I can share good news, and know they are just plain happy for me. And I want to be the same way with them.

My community will have children in it, to remind me how much fun a mud puddle can be, and how thoroughly refreshing is a glass of milk and two cookies. They will remind me who I once was, and spur me to leave a legacy worth the bequeathing.

My community will have teenagers in it, to remind me that I, too, once thought I knew everything. They will also inspire me with their indefatigable zeal for justice, loyalty, and unconditional acceptance. They will give me the chance to redeem myself by again pursuing those Christ-like ideals.

My community will have young adults in it, to remind me life can be wide open with possibility and optimism. The newlyweds among them will have every detail of their courtship and wedding displayed in new, non-chipped frames gracing the walls of their apartment, and it will remind me I was once a fresh face full on in hormonal, ungovernable, intense love — cherished, adored, pursued, and confident in my Lover’s love. And I will be a source of sought-out counsel to these young adults, even as they restore my optimism and remind me to look at my husband with softness.

My community will have people my own age — singles, marrieds, and parents. I so need the camaraderie of people who know who Max Headroom is because they were there, not because they saw some VH1 80s flashback. I need the companionship of people who are discovering they can’t run as fast as they did in high school cross-country, that they have some gray hairs and now must decide whether to fight that battle or succumb to it. I need friends who fall asleep at 9 p.m. after an evening of refereeing toddlers or grimacing their way through an assist in their child’s Algebra II homework. And because I need actual community, I want to be in these people’s lives – having them over for a dinner of Papa John’s pizza, hanging out at a playground on Saturday morning, even going camping one beautiful spring or fall weekend. I want to know their children’s favorite toys because we all hang out. I want them to offer for my kids to sleep over with theirs not because it’s a ultra-planned pajama birthday party, but because they want us as a husband and wife to have a night alone, in our own (free) house. Let me add, I’d like to offer the same. I want to know when their marriage is struggling so I can offer prayer, counsel, help with kids and dates. I want to know how they like their steak cooked and how they take their coffee; I want them to know I don’t like broccoli. I want them to call me when they’re headed to the hospital; I want them to bring me food when I have the flu. I want us to share about our walks- or non-walks – with Jesus, without judgment, with all love.

My community will have old people in it. Not just the healthy ones who join the swim & racquet club, not just the ones in assisted living facilities. Both. Those who show me a physically active retirement, and those who show me retirement that’s still socially active, and those who are alone and lonely in nursing homes. I need them all in my community, because I need people to model healthiness for me (at any age), and I need people who need me, my encouragement, my presence, and the spirit-lifting presence of my young children. I need the long-term perspective, wisdom, experience, and counsel of the old. And I need reminders that I, too, will be old one day, and will desire to be treated with dignity, respect, care, and honor.

I want all of this – brace yourself – NOT PROGRAMMED. I want it organic. Wouldn’t that really be community?

Can the church encourage people of all life stages and ages to simply be with one another? Can the church model that, by having leadership that represents all these (adult) stages and ages?

Can we, especially the believers among us, get off our homogenous hamster wheels and pursue friendships – genuine, not the Facebook-only variety – with people of all stages and ages? Can we choose to live in neighborhoods that have them all present? Can we make an honest, strategic effort to foster honest community? At least starting with the people we do know?

Can I?

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 12:23 am  Leave a Comment