Community Creates Sustainability

I like to believe that I’m immortal. When I was eight, I proclaimed from the dinner table “It’s going to be alright, Jesus will come back and take us all to heaven before any of our family dies.” I really truly believed it just might happen.

When Pope John Paul II died, I learned of a prophesy listing the Catholic popes—and that there was only one left. At twenty years old, I honest-to-goodness thought “Hey! That lines up with what I said as a kid… Maybe I was on to something.”

I know, right now as I stop to think about it, that Jesus isn’t coming back in the next 20 years to sweep us all up into heaven. People have been thinking that since the decade after Jesus died. And yet, I can’t help shake the feeling of immorality, as much as my rationality protests.

As I begin to make the transition from “growing up” to “slowing down” (when does that happen? At 26, which side of the hump am I on?) I am becoming increasingly more aware of my own mortality. And with that a sense that there is a world bigger than myself.

Community connects me into that “something bigger.” I’ve been involved with different communities: church communities, local communities, friend communities, intentional living communities, activist communities. I can’t be in more than one place at a time and so, obviously, I’ve left some communities.

Each time I transition out of a particular community, I feel a twinge of regret. Does this mean I no longer believe in what the community stands for? Are the people here no longer important to me? Was I wasting my time? That is my ego speaking. The community is bigger than me. It’s ideals transcend and surpass me. Every community needs people to embody it. To pluck it out of the ether and place it onto the earth, into our real lives. And yet, no one person defines a community (at least, not a healthy one).

A community guarantees that as people grow older, or slow down, or take on new responsibilities, or change directions with their lives, that the “something bigger” continues to thrive.

A community ensures sustainability of a movement in a way that one person never could. For I will grow tired, or bored, or eventually I will grow dead. The community, can carry on until even the memory of me is forgotten.

This is part of a short series on community. Subscribe to the free daily dispatch to catch them all.

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