Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Nouwen on Community

I've always appreciated the simplicity yet profound thinking of Henri Nouwen. Here he gets to the heart of a value at Cedarbrook: community.

The word
community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naiveté. However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not "How can we make community?" but "How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?"

Community so often takes a backset to our self interests. Sometimes even to our "passion for community", if you can understand that. Our agenda, even for good things like community, can keep us from truly loving one another.