As we mature into our next decade as a community, I find myself asking, Why is spiritual community important and relevant today? What do we offer at a physical location that you can’t find in a book or online? Perhaps brick-and-mortar community is a dying paradigm? … all popular and timely inquiries.
I am then reminded of my years in sales. I remember the increasing enthusiasm and certainty that web casts, emails and telecommuting would be the “solution” to all of our inconveniences and inefficiencies. “Convenience and efficiency, that’s what we need!” (in a Superman-like voice).
I don’t buy it. Look, I am all for the benefits of technology and accessibility. I live by Google calendar. I am obsessed with Instagram. I have bookcases upon bookcases of inspiring material. I have attended thousands of hours of workshops and classes to support my personal and spiritual growth. And yet nothing has transformed me more than the rub of human relationship.
And yet nothing has transformed me more than the rub of human relationship.
I don’t mean the polite, controlled, barely committed kind of human relationship. I don’t mean the barista bar conversations, the PTO squabbles, the obligatory family gatherings. I mean the roll your sleeves up, give yourself wholly to something greater than yourself, mission-oriented kind of service that goes on in a community. Technology and periodic spiritual practice can never replace that.
Nothing has expanded me more than giving of myself in ways I never knew I had the capacity for. Our spiritual needs cannot be met informationally—they must be met experientially.
Our spiritual needs cannot be met informationally—they must be met experientially.
It occurred to me after having my first child that spiritual community was important. I wanted something more than the ritual of ice cream on a Sunday. I yearned for the consistent support of like-minded adults at various stages of life as I embarked on the journey of parenting. I trusted that a community of people could provide my children with love, care and perspective in ways and at times that I couldn’t. That web of relationships has been a lifesaver for me individually, as a married person and as a parent.
Building the beLOVEd Community is a spiritual practice. It stretches us beyond our comfort zones. It requires a faith and commitment we never knew was possible. I know who we become in the process is worth every moment of it.