“That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
At Shrine Mont two weekends ago, I had the opportunity to do one of my favorite activities: commune with nature. What this means to me is to get out into nature and observe carefully what is unfamiliar there. It means taking the time to see, feel, and experience things I might otherwise miss—and discover the beauty in them. It is usually very fulfilling as it reconnects me to creation, of which I am a creature, and as it reconnects me to our creator.
Back at home in the city, it occurred to me that I have similar opportunities every day to commune with … my community. What this could mean to any of us is to get out into our community and observe carefully what is unfamiliar there. It could mean taking the time to see, feel, and experience places and people we might otherwise miss—and discover the beauty in them. It may be very fulfilling as it may reconnect us to our community, of which we are a member, and as it may reconnect us to our creator who calls us into community.
What kind of a change of mindset, or heartset, or soulset (to coin a couple of new words) might such a communing with our community bring about in us? To explore, discover, and interact with unfamiliar places and people? Curiosity leads to discoveries. Discoveries lead to learning. Learning leads to appreciation. Appreciation leads to caring. Caring leads to connections. Connections lead to relationships.
What might we seek when we set out intentionally to commune with our community? St. Paul reminds us in Galatians that we all share a commonality: “In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (3:26, 28) Yet, we may not often take, or make, the opportunities to experience that commonality. In more contemporary terms, we might say that “there is no longer citizen or immigrant, there is no longer poor or rich, there is no longer gendered or ungendered; for all of us are one in Christ Jesus.”
To commune with nature, I head out to a state park or wild area. To commune with community, you might want to head out to events and activities that take you out of your normal routines. Neighborhood festivals, farmers’ markets, events at public libraries, churches, and museums. Choose locations that are likely to put you with a mix of folks who don’t necessarily share your looks, your ideas, or your values. In such diversity is the joy of communing.
In order to be “one in Christ Jesus” with others, we must seek out those we do not yet know, those with whom we are not familiar. Set out to explore, discover, and interact. Be curious. Discover. Learn. Appreciate. Care. Connect. Relate. Commune, deeply, with our community.
The Rev. Bill Queen